(Photo from Megan Wiseman - 3rd place)
It's been two weeks since Ironman Lake Placid and thankfully, the body remembers nothing of the race.
But because there has been minimal working out and no structured training for the past 14 days, there hasn't been a chance for the body to notify me of any residual micro tears in my muscles and fibers that would cause me to experience lingering fatigue, soreness, burnout and aches post Ironman. Now I will say, 6th time around, I am very in-tune with my body after racing for 140.6 miles and knowing what to do post race is just as important as considering what not to do post race.
Here is how the exercise routine looked for the past two weeks, with no structure or alarms to tell me that I had to do something. Everything felt good when I did it and I stopped when I wanted to stop.
Mon - Wed post race: nothing
Tues post race: Walking around on Whiteface mountain for an hour
Thurs - 45 min swim
Fri - 45 min Swim
Sat and Sun - 2 hour road bike, EZ spin
Mon - 45 min swim + light core/hip work
Tues - 1:45 road bike, EZ spin
Wed - 45 min swim + hip work
Thurs - 45 min run (5 min walk on incline 5% @3.5mph, 5 min running @ 6.5 mph (ran by feel) w/ no incline. Repeated this 4 times for a total of 20 minutes of running + 5 min walk cool down. 3.5 miles total, no soreness, fatigue or issues before, during or after the run or the next day.
Fri - 20 min swim
Sat - 2.5 hour social ride w/ my friend Heidi
Sun (today) - plan is 1.5 hour bike + 30 min run (1 mile run + 1-2 min walk). Not a "brick" but just using the bike to warm-up my legs
Mon - back to training, easing in slowly with 9 weeks until the 2013 Ironman World Championship.
After I crossed the finish line and fell into the arms of two amazing volunteers (who were strong enough to catch me and my jello legs), and they asked me if I needed medical.
My reply in a joking manner "No, I'm ok. I'm just tired because I did an Ironman!"
They laughed and asked me what I wanted/needed.
My reply "I need to find my husband, he just did his first Ironman."
And there he was, right in front of me. With his Mylar blanket keeping his body temperature warm after taking a dip in Mirror Lake to rinse off all the gels, sport drinks and sweat from his first-timer Ironman body, Karel gave me a big hug and said "WOW - you did awesome babe!"
The first thing I asked him was "How was your race?"
Such a funny question since we were both on the course together and saw each other several times on the bike and the run, but never did I guess, think or wonder what Karel's finishing time would be.
He replied "10:03"
I couldn't believe it. I kept telling him that was so amazing and he told me he was really happy and proud. The best part of it all was when Karel was running down the finishing chute and heard Mike R. call his name as a first timer from Jacksonville, Florida, Karel said he got emotional as he has been anticipating this day without knowing how the day would ever turn out. I was so happy that he experienced that finishing line to the fullest because that is what the Ironman is all about. 140.6 miles and no matter how the race goes, it is all turned around in those last few tenths of a mile as you approach the finishing line as a member of a special group of individuals who can officially call themselves "Ironman finisher".
As I hobbled my way with the volunteers to some chairs, I noticed there were a lot of guys around me and many who were making their way to the medical tent. I couldn't take in any solid food as usual, only water.
After Karel told me about his race, I managed to look at Garmin for the first time in the history file and after switching over from swim, to bike, to run, I told Karel that I ran a 3:48 marathon! I couldn't believe it! Of course, this is after I told him that it was the hardest run of my life, I had to sprint to the finishing line and I am not sure if I am 4th of 5th (if I will get a Kona slot but I may have a chance), my quads were burning the entire race and I really dug deep to finish strong. I kept looking at my watch as I read
"10:43, 140.6 miles."
It's funny that in an Ironman, you can go into the race with your current level of fitness and anticipate a finishing time. But the only thing that is certain is how many miles you have to cover until you get your finisher medal, hat and t-shirt. Never can you chase a time for 140.6 miles is a long way to go.
For Karel, his two goals were to qualify for Kona and to break 10 hours. Of course, big goals for your first Ironman. Karel and myself are motivated by our goals and we love to put in the work for them in a balanced way so that are action plan has results. I would never tell Karel or any of my athletes to not dream big, even if the goal is not possible at this point in time. The key is making sure that your goal/dream motivates you but does not distract you from enjoying the journey. Karel never put too much pressure on himself that he would need to compare himself to the crazy fast guys in his 35-39 age group (with only 6 Kona slots) who can swim, bike and run their way to a sub 9:30 Ironman or that he would hate his training because he can't get faster quick enough. What Karel experienced with the Ironman journey is that his body only let him do so much throughout training and he was only allowed to accept his current level of fitness within 24 hours of the race and what he could do to execute a strong, well-paced race. He did just that and without taking too many risks, he is motivated to improve his swim and to learn to be a faster triathlete.
Never would I want anyone to not dream big but at the end of the day, your race day performance is not titled good or bad just because of a finishing time. After sitting around in the finisher area for a good 15 minutes until my body felt semi-OK to take a picture ...
I told Karel, just like I did at IMWI
when I crossed the line in 4th place, 90 seconds behind 3rd place and only 3 Kona slots again, that I was so happy with my performance that I wouldn't care about not getting a Kona slot. I did exactly what I trained myself to do and that was to race a strong race. You never know how the cards will be dealt on race day and when things are going well, I recognize them and don't expect things to go even better. Sure, I got ran down by many girls but I was racing a strong race for me and my body and that was worth celebrating.
Toughness comes from overcoming personal limits, obstacles and doubts. You have to argue against the internal voices in your head that scream at you to slow down. Your body gives you feedback that you are not able to maintain this effort to the finish line and that your energy levels are falling. No one but yourself can experience these feelings and no one but you can overcome them.....unless you choose to give in to the pain.
No matter the distance of your upcoming race, how you choose to execute the race or your finishing time, you are a tough, strong athlete because you have prevented barriers which would have stopped you from reaching the finish line and have shut-up the thoughts that tell you it is not possible.
After grabbing our phones from our transition bags and getting our bikes, I checked my phone in my pre race gear bag and was overwhelmed by the messages from our friends and family. Absolutely shocked is a better way to put it as I couldn't believe how many people tracked us throughout the day. Deep inside, I think I heard everyone so we thank you!!
We got on our bikes and painfully (ouch!) rode our bikes 3 miles down the road to our cottage while cheering for the athletes on the course. And this is why I love the Ironman...athletes still with over 13 miles to go on the run and they are congratulating us for our accomplishment. Just amazing!
When we arrived home, we both collapsed on separate beds and chatting with our families. Karel's family in Czech were tracking us all day and you could only believe how excited his parents were since all they knew of Karel was him as a cyclist.
I took a cold epson salt bath and spent some time dealing with my tummy post race (nothing abnormal) and finally managed to get in some nutrition - pretzels, fruit, glass of milk, leftover small slice of pizza.
I packed some pringles, tums and saltines for later as well as 1 FIZZ in my water to replenish electrolytes.
Nearing 10:30pm and completely exhausted, sore and aching all over, it was time to head back to the race to cheer on the last hour of finishers.
It was dark on River Road and on our bikes, pedaling super duper slowly, we cheered for the athletes and told them we expect to see them at the finish line when we get there. Volunteers still on the course, it was all becoming so real that we really just did an Ironman together!
We met Laura and her boyfriend and family at her place and I could finally congratulate her for her amazing first timer 6th place age group finish and we all walked to the finish line for my favorite part of the Ironman..the last hour.
Thank you again for all your support, cheers and kind words over the past two weeks.
I look forward to sharing my 7th Ironman journey with everyone.....starting tomorrow!