The four-week anniversary of my Ironman Cabos finish is this Sunday. Big deal I know. But it’s made me think about what life after Ironman has looked like this time around. After going through the hard parts once before, I know that writing is good medicine.
The progression from hitting a major physical goal to regular life will be different for everyone, from the one-and-done bucket lister to the pro who picks herself up to race two weeks later. But for those of us who fall somewhere in the middle, it might go a little something like this.
This time around, something more all-consuming than sleeping in and frequent happy hours came along to distract me: moving. We’d finalized our rental of a sweet new pad just days before leaving for Cabo, and not only did it give me something to look forward to during my taper, it staved off the blahs upon our return. When there are boxes to pack and mildewing windowpanes to clean, you don’t have time to sit around thumbing through race photos, let alone get bored.
I was grateful for the distraction, and the excuse to go for greasy breakfasts with the hubby and eat Valero burritos too many nights in a row. As for training, I did absolutely nothing that first week back. Oh yeah, and I also got a weird one-day (Mexican ice induced?) stomach bug. But if you can swing it, I highly recommend planning a move after Ironman.
While it took me almost two weeks to return to running after Mont-Tremblant, this time I jumped back into it more quickly. An easy mid-day jaunt with a co-worker reminded me of the most basic reason why I love this sport: Because it feels good to move my body in the sunshine. And, since we now live 12 miles from my office instead of three, my commute constitutes some legitimate base miles instead of something that just gets me from point A to point B.
Week two was a re-introduction into the world of the fine art of commuting: trying different backpacks, discovering that underwear can be secretly stowed in a jersey pocket, and getting to know the office shower once again. (I did a lot of my Ironman Cabo training early in the morning, so I usually just got ready afterwards and drove to work, or rode those easy three miles.) With the sweet new bike lanes in Leucadia, our move couldn’t have been better timing. And I’ve discovered that I really like commuting and all that goes with it: Early morning coffees with “Team Gid” plus a few extra miles en route to the office. Fresh air first thing in the morning. Salad in a Zip-loc bags stashed in a small backpack.
Training wise, I discovered that running in my new ‘hood means hill repeats are always, literally, just around the corner. And I learned that I can run in the golf course behind our place no matter what my rule-abiding husband says. Food-wise I continued to eat and drink what I wanted with no guilt–including a spontaneous “dinner” of beer and pretzels with Mark upon discovering that one of our favorite breweries wasn’t too far from our new place. I was loving the freshness of a new home (that solved many of my so-called “first world problems”) and gradually easing back into training.
At the beginning of the third week I started to think about my next race, St. George 70.3 on May 4th, and put together a plan (of sorts). I started to feel the tension between wanting to approach it as I do most races, with full commitment and rigor, and wanting to just do it “for fun.” (Translation: the difference between structured training and “do what I feel like.”) I did a strength class that made me achy for five days. I did my first bike-run workout. I missed my first long run back because of another one-day (Mexican ice induced?) stomach bug, and started to feel like my body was punishing me.
A couple of crappy JUST DO IT ANYWAY workouts later the weekend arrived, bringing with it a) an awesome swim clinic with Sergio and co., b) an impromptu Nytro Women’s team ride, and c) a 75-mile “doughnuts-and-beer” ride up the coast with an old friend from Winnipeg. My love of training and physical health slowly crept back in, and I started to dream again.
In life, work has become more engaging and rewarding, and after numerous trips to Home Depot (welcome to Suburbia!) our place is morphing into a space to love. My organizing OCD came down a few notches and I started to enjoy more afternoon lattes on MY PATIO (ahem, pardon the excitement).
This week, training felt more like a familiar friend than a guest who’d worn out their welcome. I’m still doing what I want, when I want (and of course obsessing about structure from time to time), but I’ve started to eat better and hit my workouts more consistently.
Though I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t feeling an ounce of guilt for not jumping head first into structured training, I know I have enough “fitness in the bank” (thanks Zoot Molly) to pull off a decent day in Utah. Before I tackle one of the hardest 70.3’s on the circuit, however, I have another Fiesta Island Time Trial (Sunday) and the So Cal Ragnar Relay (go team NUUN!) next weekend. Life is full. I’ll let the motivation come knocking when it’s ready.
For those of you who like it short and sweet, here are my top-five tips for a successful post-Ironman transition. I also found Chris McCormack’s tips helpful, for those of you looking for a more expert opinion than some random hippie commuter.
Tips for a Successful Post-Ironman Transition
1) Move (to a new apartment, or at least, move your body)
2) Drink (beer)
3) Write (about the experience)
4) Eat (vegetables)
5) Ease back into it (both training and life)