Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Ironman CdA Wrap-up (post-race, recovery and other odds and ends)

This is the FINAL Ironman blab from me, I swear!  With over two weeks since I crossed the finish line, I've had time to "process" the experience - and to recover from it.  No easy feat there, I might add.

While I mentioned in the race recap that so much of the race is a blur (seriously), I do remember crossing the finishing line and feeling happy and relieved that I accomplished my goal!  But, when I stopped running, realization that my body hurt SO MUCH quickly set in.  While I ran the marathon just fine, apparently I couldn't walk without pain.  After getting the race swag (t-shirt, medal, cap), I hobbled over to the food area where there was a nice buffet - pizza, sandwiches, chocolate milk, cookies.  Sadly, none of it appealed to me.  I took a bite of pizza and could barely swallow it.  Feeling extremely cheated by my inability to stomach the food, I ended up drinking more chicken broth and a sprite.  So much for a post-race food fest, something that I had looked forward to during most of the run.

The other thought I had crossing the finish line was "How the hell will I meet up with Michael and my parents?".  Fortunately, my mother's tendency to wear flamboyant colors (being from Texas and all) solved that problem - I easily spotted her red fleece and pink jacket. So, we reunited quite soon, and there was a lot of chatter from them and from me.  It had been a long day for all of us!

I actually think that my dad is smiling more than I am here.

As much as a part of me wanted to see more finishers cross, I was exhausted and ready to return to the hotel room and sleep.  We returned to the hotel room, but sleep did not come - a combination of being too keyed up and of being so sore that every time I moved, something new hurt (I know that I'm making a big deal out of how freakin' sore I was, but I heard someone on the course saying "The only thing that doesn't hurt are my earlobes and fingernails" and I totally agreed with that statement).

The day after the race, we packed up all of our stuff and headed north to Canada where we all (parents, Michael and I and Gus, our dog) spent a few days in the Canadian Rockies.  Spending 7 hours in the car on Monday probably wasn't the best way to recover, but it couldn't be helped, and once we arrived in Banff and got settled, we all relaxed - finally!  I felt pretty 'fragile' and super dehydrated until Tuesday or Wednesday following the race, but managed a short little hike on Wednesday and then a longer hike on Thursday.

Views from our drive up to Banff

My mom and I posing.

Short hike along the Icefields Parkway

Although traveling with my parents post-race wasn't the most relaxing way to recover (ha ha - understatement there!), it was great to explore a new area and to share something more than the IM experience with them.  It also forced me to get out and be a bit more active than I probably would have been otherwise, and I think that the low-key walking/hiking did help my muscles remember that they could function.  

My body is finally coming around - I've actually gone on a short and slow run 2 days in a row (yesterday and today), and I went swimming last week.  Biking is supposedly the easiest on the body, and we have plans to get in some saddle time this week and next in Boulder, CO.  

Final thoughts about IM CdA:
First of all, I'm really happy that I signed up for this race - the idea had been floating around in my head since I finished Boulder 70.3 in 2012, an idea that appealed to me but was also terrifying!  While it was "my" goal, I also appreciated the support of friends and, of course, Michael.  He encouraged me to sign up, then he encouraged me to get a coach, bikes with me on quite a few occasions, and he often encouraged me to get out the door to train, telling me (quite rightly) that I'd feel better after my ride/run/swim.  A friend from work often swam with me in the mornings and evenings, and sharing a lane with her humbled me every single time, but it was great to have the motivation.  While I didn't train a ton with the tri group, California Triathlon, I've enjoyed being a part of that group, and I've learned a ton from different members which helped me with my training and while I was out there on the course.  Finally, I know that I've mentioned time and again how much I enjoyed working with Beth, who pushed me just enough to have a strong race but didn't let me overdo it.  It was a luxury, in many ways, to work with a coach, but I was glad that I made that investment, and I learned so much from her and from the training plans that she gave me.

A few random details about equipment/fueling/other odds and ends:
  • I know that I was tempted on more than one occasion to invest in a new bike (so bright! so shiny! looks so fast!), but I am glad that stuck with Sunshine, my still-new-to-me Trek Madone which is a great bike.  The decision to add aero-bars was great, and I like the fact that I have another position for riding, even if I don't ride aero as much as an expert.  I wasn't the fastest cyclist out there, but I passed people who had nicer bikes and there were plenty of people with older or heavier bikes who passed me.
  • Fueling/hydration had been a bit of an issue at Boulder 70.3 and Vineman 70.3, but I felt that I really nailed it down at Wildflower this year, so I was hopefully that I'd manage to keep on top of my fueling and hydration.  I ate a good breakfast, ate some Honey Stinger chews before the swim, and then tried to settle in during the first hour of the bike and eat and drink.  However, the long climb into the headwind made it difficult to eat and drink on as regular a basis as I would have liked.  I hoped to eat 2 Bonkbreakers, 2 Uncrustables, 3 Honeystinger chew packs and then enjoy some oreos and corn nuts from my bike Special Needs bag, but I ended up not eating one of the uncrustables and only eating the corn nuts (they were pretty awesome though!).  As for hydration, I had 2 bottles on the bike - one of Osmo (yes, everyone raves about it and I am a convert), one of gatorade and I had more Osmo to mix with water and another bottle of gatorade at Special Needs.  Again, I opted out of that second bottle of Gatorade and stuck to Osmo and water for the last part of the bike ride.  I was really worried that I'd bonk on the run, but I think that I can handle going a little lighter on fuel rather than eating too many calories.  Still, having to go to the bathroom multiple times (some were legit stops and others were precautionary) was no fun.  I did have some immodium on me, so I popped one of those early in the run.  I don't know if I really needed to do so or if it helped, but I lived with that decision.
  • What would I change? Obviously I'd like to have had speedier transition times, especially T1.  Also, thinking about hydration, I stuck with old-fashioned bottles, but it would been nice to have an aero bottle with a straw.  Finally, I've heard so many great things about the ISM saddles, and I'd love to be just a bit more comfortable on long rides and would be open to trying a different seat.

FINALLY, the overall race experience - I know that there is a debate about race branding, and a part of me hates that the Ironman Corporation has such a monopoly on the 140.6 and 70.3 distances.  I certainly welcome other races and other brands that can compete with the I-dot races.  That said, I appreciated how well-oiled the Ironman machine is and the experience that it delivered on race day.  It's a long day out there, so it was nice to not have to think about a lot of the details.  Also, I've mentioned the volunteers before, but they seriously make the race experience so special for the participants.  From people helping me undress and dress, to volunteers who held my bike for me, to all of the aid stations scattered throughout the race - the volunteers were awesome! 

I still don't have an easy answer as to the "why" for doing an Ironman (or iron-distance race), but I know that I like a challenge, and it was a great experience to have this big, scary, personal goal.  Every year, I have to submit professional goals and work towards those, and it was satisfying to have such a big goal on a personal level.  In some ways, I think that this is how my mid-life crisis is manifesting itself, and that is certainly a possibility, but I don't think that it's a negative manifestation.  I've learned how to push myself, I've developed greater confidence in my abilities swimming, biking and running but also in other aspects of my life.  Finally, triathlon, not just Ironman, has added a texture to my life that keeps me from being too complacent, too satisfied, and has allowed me to explore and to find different adventures.


One Crazy Penguin said...

You are a freaking rock star. I'm doing my first 70.3 in October and I hope to be half as happy with my race as you are with this one!

Kristina said...

Good luck with your 70.3 - the training and the race! I look forward to hearing about your experiences.