Besides being Easter and the dawn of all things hopeful—like spring and Jesus and mini eggs—yesterday marked the two week anniversary of my third Ironman. I marked the occasion thusly: avocado scramble and coffee on the patio; a visit with friends and a beach walk; grilling, beer, and a Game of Thrones party.
I am happy to report that the giant yellow slide coming down from the Ironman mountain gets smoother every time. At least it does for me. In the past it’s helped me to write about it. The rough patch after Mont Tremblant. The welcome distractions after Cabos. And so I return to the old WordPress pages in hopes of some heart-on-sleeve recovery.
This time, after allowing myself to be really disappointed for a few (too many) days, my general attitude has been positive. The down days have come more sporadically. There have been the expected hours of feeling purposeless (and fat), but in general, the mental tracks have been upbeat: “Let’s fix this chest issue and move on.” “You still love triathlon even if you never break 11 hours or run under four.” And lastly, “Get over yourself, Jen.” Loving and kind self-talk, I know. (And even better when uttered by good friends over delicious beer.)
I’ve been enjoying a more spontaneous approach to exercise, doing what I want, when I want. As I walk and stretch and swim and hike, I’ve chased away lingering guilt (“You should be running!” “You’re losing all that fitness you worked so hard for!”) by thinking about the deep repair going on inside my muscles and tendons, and about sweeping up every last dust bunny of fatigue. Here’s how the two weeks post Ironman looked from a training point of view:
Monday through Friday following the race: off, spent bunched up in planes trains and automobiles, and madly chasing down my life, which appeared to be running off on me like a crazed rabbit
Saturday: 8-mile hike with Mark at Agua Caliente Creek near Warner Springs Sunday: Easy 4-hour chatty spin (oops!) with friends
Monday: 6-mile hills-not-by choice run, felt like a ton of bricks
Tuesday: Yoga, felt like a pile of stretched-out elastic bands
Wednesday: 2-hour morning spin and noon Masters (easy)
Thursday: 6-mile hilly run with much more spring in my step
Friday: Hard Masters session, felt the hunger returning
Saturday: Too-fun-Friday-night-induced, all-day laziness
Sunday: Beach walk
I’ve also been enjoying the much-needed stillness that has replaced the incessant mental loop of the past six months. Train. Pack. Unpack. Move workouts around. Get to the pool before conference call. Refuel. Ack I don’t have any clean shorts! I’ve taken all that seriousness and shifted it to other areas—namely work and relationships, which both needed some love.
The past two weeks’ non-training activities have included beer tasting and baby showers, late nights and lazy mornings, computer cramps and conference calls, coffee dates and Quaker Oatmeal Squares. That box, containing my cereal guilty pleasure, is now empty. My sunburned skin has stopped peeling. I’m hungry again, not for competition, but for training intensity and consistency, even if it’s a new goal to simply move every day.
As I’ve told a few friends, I pulled the plug on Ironman Canada. It’s not because I’m burned out, in fact, quite the opposite. There are a handful of reasons; one of the main ones is not wanting to race another Ironman until I figure out the chest issue that plagued me in South Africa. As for the others, well, ask me on a four-hour ride.
To fill the void, I jumped into the Syracuse 70.3 on June 22 instead. It’s not a “redeem myself” race, but one I’ve been eyeing for awhile and in a place that’s dear to my heart and filled with friends. I’m determined to keep the focus squarely on 1) troubleshooting my chest issue (specialist appointment is booked), 2) maintaining fitness/sharpening my speed, 3) bringing new pizzaz to training by throwing some new things into the mix, and 4) having even more fun racing, as I did last year with my Ironman follow up 70.3 in St. George.
Now that sounds like a plan I can believe in.