making like a fly, third trimester, Banks Lake

Happy Monday readers,

As this pregnancy of mine reaches full term, I've been taking stock of the last nine months.

Upon first discovering that I was pregnant I debated with myself whether or not to share about my pregnancy and corresponding athleticism as they progressed. As an introvert, it is most comfortable to experience a lesson, take ample time to digest it, then wait to process events before sharing. The decision to document my journey as a pregnant athlete as it happened in this and other forums has taken a lot of self-knowledge, confidence, vulnerability, and ultimately a deep trust in my body and intuition. 

baby's first ultra/my twenty-fourth, first trimester, Mount Rainier

The first trimester was all about the highest athletic performances of my life. After an initial acclimatization period, that fruitful span of weeks contained the single most productive athletic cycle I've had yet: my twenty-fourth mountain ultra followed by sending my sport climbing project a week later followed by my twenty-fifth mountain ultra the week after that. Thanks to new levels of blood flooding my body, stem cell activity, and increased cardiovascular activity I produced this mountain work without experiencing soreness, lethargy, or overtraining and was able to conduct two very different types of movement at a high level in the same cycle of training. During the first trimester I also continued rock guiding and alpine climbing just like normal. The first trimester was a big fat win.

enjoying the descent from a remote crag, second trimester, Joshua Tree

My second trimester was also a period of great athletic growth. I took my first trip to the desert, climbing in Joshua Tree for a week and falling in love with its otherworldly beauty. Upon returning from that trip I launched into my best ski season yet. One particularly stellar day in the second trimester included hitting conditions on my dream couloir just right and skiing it in its untracked entirety - on a -14F day with my pants unzipped. Before the bottomless powder turned to scary slabs, I jetted off on a solo mountain running road trip down the West Coast landing in the Bay Area - the birthplace of trail running. The second trimester was all about high athletic achievements in the most beautiful settings across all three disciplines of mountain travel.

after a long run, third trimester, Mount Tamalpais

As the fetus and I rung in the third trimester I was running big loops around Mount Tam with my kindred, Sarah. Upon returning home to the melting Methow I'd run in six bucket list destinations across four states and through two pairs of brand new shoes - my estimate for the eight weeks I was gone is five hundred mountain miles completed. For the remainder of the third trimester I've focused on ramping up my rock climbing by hitting the local crags five days a week, training on TRX, with a kettlebell, and on my trusty Beastmaker, and maintaining my running and skiing shape on nearby hills. Though I am becoming hilariously round, my summertime goal of sending my first 5.12 feels entirely within reach considering at nine months pregnant I'm still climbing 5.11. The third trimester has been all about gratitude for my diligent work before and during pregnancy and for my body's willingness to continue to give to the mountains. 

Now as I enter the taper period of my pregnancy journey, I spend most balmy evenings on the deck overlooking Mount Gardner with a stack of my training journals making calculations and planning for the postpartum period. A few nights I've been so zealous that I skipped dinner and crouched over my notes until I was squinting in the dark and my hands had long gone numb. Planning in this way provides me with intention as an athlete which serves me well, keeping me grounded in my mountain purpose and making my energy flow in a productive direction even as life events shift and sway. 

Thank you for following along as I've shared my journey. Your supportive words (every last one of them) have kept me writing, thinking, and sharing this journey of growth as a pregnant athlete. Many times, in the depths of a post-sharing vulnerability hangover, I've nearly convinced myself to stop writing. Convinced that I am not experiencing pregnancy with a high enough degree of grace, discouraged that I'm not one of those women who feels like a goddess while pregnant, I've nearly made myself believe I'm not worthy to share on the topic of pregnancy. The self-doubt has been intense - as has the mom shame - and I am made more resilient by the support found in this community.

In the postpartum months I'll be gathering my lessons, jotting them all down, and preparing to share something even more meaningful and cohesive than the boundary-defying anecdotes and articles I've cranked out so far. 

In wellness and persistence,

Brittany Raven

PS: Find a running list of pregnant athlete posts here. A popular one on rock climbing is here, one on backcountry skiing is here, and post one and two on ultra running while pregnant.