After Olympic Gold

Five years ago I became an Olympian. It was a bitter-sweet moment, leaving me proud to be an Olympian, but also leaving me feeling blue. I gave my best effort at the London Olympics, but came up short after a flat tire on the bike portion of the triathlon. It was a trying time for me. And for Patrick. Patrick and I were a relatively new couple and had just started living together. He had never seen me so sad; but having him there allowed me to heal and redirect my focus on the next Olympics in four years. Because of my blues post London and because of what I read and heard from others, I thought there was no way I wouldn’t experience the post-Olympic depression after Rio as well. As an athlete I devote time, energy and thought, and I experience emotional and physical stressors in hopes of performing at my full potential on a single day. The chances of success are slim, but that’s what makes the effort worthwhile.

I prepared for four years in hopes of performing on a single day. I knew I could fail and assumed no matter the result, I would enter a state of post-Olympic blues. However, I have been pleasantly surprised that the blues never came. Instead, post-Olympics I was allowed freedom and opportunities, and I was left with feelings of accomplishment and gratitude.

Winning gave me the freedom to follow my dream of having a child. I am currently pregnant and on my “maternity leave.” As soon as Baby is born, I will go back to work, preparing for Tokyo 2020. Until Baby’s arrival, I am taking time to hike, visit my family and friends, buy our first home, and watch Patrick in his cycling races. My time is also full of media and sponsor engagements as I try to earn a salary in a non-racing year.

My feelings of accomplishment and gratitude are what I attribute to avoiding the post-Olympic blues. Some days Patrick will just look at me and say, “Can you believe you won?!?” All I can do is chuckle. I am proud of that race and the work and investments my team and I made to cross the finish line in first. But mostly, I feel grateful. The team investment around me was enormous and when I reminisce or see my medal, I smile because I’m thankful for people like my coach, Jamie Turner, and my husband, Patrick Lemieux. Both men invested fully in my goal and allowed me to show up on August 20th ready to compete at my full potential.

Going into the Rio Olympic Games, I never thought one race could change my life or define me. I believed it had the potential to be a defining moment in my athletic career, but I never thought it could define me or my life trajectory. Winning changed my life more than I thought possible. When strangers find out I’m an Olympic gold medalist, their perception of me immediately changes. Patrick and I bought a house with a shower that was unusable, so we hired contractors to install a working shower. After days of work, the contractor stopped me, saying, “I just have to tell you, going to Rio is pretty special, but winning is just amazing! We’ve worked on a lot of houses, and my boss and I agree this is the coolest person’s house we have worked on.” I smiled. How kind, I thought. I’m just me, though, nothing special. His comment reinforced how one moment changed how others perceive me (both on and off the field of play). My favorite part of this changed perception is being able to connect with younger athletes. Patrick and I started a fund to help junior athletes; but, I believe my text and phone conversations are more valuable than the money we contribute. I love waking up to texts from juniors giving me an update on racing, training and life. I recently spent time with a local tri club in Portland and I loved seeing the enthusiasm on the juniors’ faces. They were thrilled to ask me questions and I loved sharing my experiences. My Olympic medal doesn’t define me, but it allows me to make some pretty neat connections.

Although I didn’t get the post-Olympic blues after Rio, and the Olympics brought me more joy than I anticipated, it doesn’t mean I didn’t go through a low. I go through a low every year after race season is over. I spend hours, days, months, and years focusing on one race or goal and the mental (more than physical) fatigue builds until it bursts. I don’t believe my low was because of the Olympics, but instead from needing a break from triathlon. After Rio I was ready for the season to be over, but had previously committed to one more race: the WTS Grand Final. I continued to train, but, my heart wasn’t in it and I dreaded the training daily. I wasn’t having fun and I needed a rest. Also, I was ready for my dream of having a child, but was advised to wait to conceive. Zika was talked about in the media pre-Olympics, but post Olympics there wasn’t much chatter. Patrick and I got tested for Zika and waited the recommended three to six months before trying to conceive. This was probably the biggest contributor to my low: my dream of having children was put on hold.

Thankfully, my low didn’t last long, and was lessened with time, the NYC Marathon, and Patrick and I given the go-ahead to try to conceive. Being Olympic Champion was always the goal, but my dream has always been to have a family. I’m so grateful Patrick and I are married. If you know me, you know how amazing Patrick is and I am so excited to see him be a dad. He’s going to be amazing.

2012 Olympics  

2012 Olympics  

2016 Olympics

2016 Rio Olympics. Photo thanks to Delly Carr

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Patrick post Rio Olympics ❤Photo thanks to Delly Carr

Baby Update Part III

Now that I’m in my third trimester, we are having more baby appointments and less travel, which I love. Baby’s heart rate was 133 at the last appointment. I find it so interesting how Baby’s HR changes so much throughout pregnancy.

I am growing every day and my body is slowing me down. I am exercising less, which allows me to nest. I have yet to buy the most important item: a car seat. But I did have a baby shower (thanks sister Elizabeth!) and now have most of the gear needed for baby’s arrival.

How many weeks pregnant: 30.

My guess on gender: A boy.

Pat’s guess on gender: A boy.

Food aversions: Ground pork is my only current food aversion.

Food cravings: Is salt a food? I am putting salt on everything, excessively.

Sleep: I am sleeping about 10 hours a night. During triathlon training I could never sleep more than 8 —  this baby making takes a lot of energy. I am also sleeping on my back. I’ve read this is a no-no, but my doctors and PTs say this is just fine as long as I am comfortable.

When I feel my best: I feel my best when running.

When I feel my worst: I feel awful at the end of the day. I also dislike how quickly I get full, and then I am starving five minutes later. My stomach has shrunk and I’m not able to eat big meals, except for breakfast. For some reason when I wake up in the morning there is room in my belly for a big meal, but come dinner my stomach seems to have shrunk.

Biggest area of growth: My stomach is growing and growing.

Times I go to the bathroom during the night: On average, I go to the bathroom three times during the night.

Belly button in or out? My belly button is neither an innie or outie. It’s quite strange to look at as the belly button is flush with my stomach.

Wedding rings still fit? Yep! My hands/fingers have not swollen yet.

Best moment of being pregnant so far: Feeling baby move.

Worst moment of being pregnant so far: Since my last update, there hasn’t been too many complaints from Baby or me. Yes I am slower, and can’t exercise as much (or as quickly) but that’s not the goal this year. The goal for 2017 is to have a healthy baby :)

On my to-do list: Patrick and I finally got furniture (from BabyAppleseed) for the baby nursery so we are going to be putting that together shortly and organizing Baby’s room. Patrick and I are still sleeping in our guest room as our bedroom currently has no bed nor dresser. We still do not have a couch or TV or dining table chairs, but they are ordered and on their way, so soon we will be relaxing in our home as we hoped.

Training: I am running quite a bit less than last time I wrote an update. I ran 40 miles last week and swam around 10,000m. Swimming is difficult for me as I get sharp pains in my stomach when I push off the wall too quickly. I have learned that pregnancies are all so different. Some women can’t run, while for me, that is what feels best. Other women praise the pool, while I notice discomfort. I love listening to my body and adapting as necessary. I have been commuting more on my bike and I ride my bike about once a week (when it’s safe to do so). As my training decreases, my physio, PT, and massage increases. My body is becoming more prone to injuries and rolled ankles with the relaxin and lack of coordination. I take every day as it comes and do what feels best on that day.

Thanks for following my journey. We are looking forward to meeting baby Lemieux.

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We love breakfast and Patrick likes it even more when he doesn't have to make it! 

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At the baby shower with friend Katie.  

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Thanks Elizabeth for the shower! 

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Spending time with family and friends in WI

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Had a great time at The Island House in the Bahamas. 

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Volunteered at a local tri club here in Portland. Love seeing the enthusiasm these youngsters have! Thanks Strive for having me. 

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Ran for those who can't (I can no longer run this long nor fast!) 

Baby Update Part II

Time for another baby update! We had another ultrasound on March 23rd, 2017 and Baby would not stop moving. This made it very hard to get a clear and cute picture. Thankfully, Baby did allow the doctor to check the heart, bones, kidneys and other organs. Everything looks great, which makes Mummy and Daddy very happy.

The past month, Patrick and I were in Flagstaff, AZ. It was my first time that high (7000ft altitude) and it made training with a baby extra difficult, but I absolutely loved it. The trails were beautiful and the sun was shining daily. We are now in Portland, OR where we just bought our first home. I can’t wait to move in and decorate (we have never owned a couch, TV, table, etc. so we have a lot of shopping to do).

Thank you to everyone who wished my dad well. He is still recovering and still in and out of the hospital. I really hope Baby gives him motivation to get better. Patrick and I are still hopeful he will be able to fly out for Baby’s birth with Mom and Elizabeth (sister). I am also hopeful Dad gets well enough to make some of his beautiful woodworkings to decorate our new home.                                                                                  

How many weeks pregnant: 22.

My guess on gender: Because Baby is moving so much, I think it’s a boy.

Pat’s guess on gender: Patrick says boy because it looks like a boy (I’m not sure you can tell in pictures this early though).

Food aversions: My only food aversion in the second trimester so far has been pork. Unless it is pulled, al pastor, or BBQ pork, then I will devour it.

Food cravings: My strangest craving was for a root beer from a glass bottle. It only happened once, and when I requested it Patrick looked at me and said “I’ve never in my life seen you drink a soda!” I also crave unhealthy foods and starches (white, processed breads, ice cream, shakes, and French fries). Thankfully, though, I am able to eat a more normal diet now and am back to eating (mostly) healthy foods; although, my dessert intake has increased quite a bit. 

Sleep: I am still sleeping more than normal, but not as much as the first trimester. I am currently sleeping around 10 hours a night with a nap in the middle of the day.

When I feel my best: I feel my best when running.

When I feel my worst: I feel my worst at the end of the day. I get very tired and exhausted and usually can’t function past 6pm. I’m often in bed before 8pm.

Biggest area of growth: My stomach!

Belly button in or out? My belly button is still an innie. 

Wedding rings still fit? Yep! Hands/fingers have not swollen yet, but my feet sure have.

Best moment of being pregnant so far: Feeling Baby move around 17 weeks was the best moment so far. My mom told me that was too soon to feel baby move, but even Patrick felt the baby move. Now I feel Baby all the time—every day Baby is moving, pushing, punching, and tumbling. I love the sensations and love knowing that Baby is still OK.

Worst moment of being pregnant so far: My feet grew and swelled an entire shoe size. My big toenails were turning black and blue and I almost lost them. It was so painful. It took me about a week to figure out what was happening (that my feet were bigger). The day I figured it out, Patrick went to the store and bought me new shoes a full size bigger. Patrick said the salesperson was so confused as to why the shoes had to be ASICS (“If your wife is sponsored, why are you buying shoes?” they wondered. But, I wanted to buy the shoes that day so I could go for an afternoon run). I am glad to say my toenails are saved, and I found a new favorite training shoe since the store didn’t have any DS Trainers. My new favorite shoe is now the Dynaflight. On a sad note, I’m not sure if my feet will ever return to their pre-pregnancy size and I have so many pairs of shoes I love.

On my to-do list: Too much! I thought this year (a non-racing year) would be less busy, but I’ve actually been more busy. I feel like I can’t say no to anything since I’m not training (I’m just exercising). Patrick and I finally closed on a home. In a month, we will have a lot to do (buying baby products and furnishing a home). Anyone know any good interior designers in Oregon or a furniture store that’s looking to sponsor an Olympic Gold medalist? Haha

Training: I have more energy now than the last time I wrote an update so I’ve been training two times a day (instead of once). I still feel my best when running. I enjoy running and it’s the only workout where I can push myself. When swimming, if I try to do an effort or if I push off the wall too quickly, I get a sharp pain in my stomach. Cycling has been limited due to lack of nice weather, so running has been my main source of exercise (notice I say exercise and not training). I am getting slower almost daily. I now sometimes struggle to go at a 9 min mile pace, although I still have some good days when I can average 7 minute miles. I am continuing to do strength work as well. 

Thanks for following my journey—please leave comments on what you would like me to write about next time.

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Baby's foot  

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Here is a picture of Baby. I think I even see a smile! 

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I've been staying busy with sponsor engagements and photo shoots.  

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Running has been treating me well during my pregnancy so far.  

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My clothes no longer fit so I now where Patrick's.  

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One of my favorite dishes Pat cooked up (recipe was from Shalane Flanagan and Elyse Kopecky's new cookbook. I was a taste-tester.)