A few months ago when I was exhausted from peak Ironman training, I began to daydream about a life called LAIM – Life After Ironman. Now that it’s here, it feels surreal. I had been training in essence for 1 complete year in preparation for one day and now that the day has passed and the goal has been achieved, life is different. Not different in a bad way, just different.
Post-Ironman Life in Coeur D’Alene
Life immediately after Ironman was full of excitement. Immediately after the race, I was escorted by a volunteer to the medical and finishers area. I was given a cape (as I call the shiny foil thermal blanket) and sent on my way. There were a bunch of people waiting near the medical area with capes over them, so I sat down. It was surreal – I was finished with the Ironman. After about a minute of waiting, I asked a girl if we were waiting to be checked out by a medic or something and she told me that we were waiting for massages and that we had to sign up. Duh. I immediately got up and left so I could find Mike and my family. My stomach was still full and I had no desire to eat the buffet of pizza and snacks but I did grab a chocolate milk before I left the finishers area.
I made my way back to the finish where I discovered that Jeremy had finished just behind me, getting his second wind on the way back to town. I also found Mike and we congratulated each other with hugs and kisses. I wanted to hang out at the finish line longer but my legs and feet were tired so I insisted that we find somewhere to sit. My dad, step-mom, Mike and I sat on some benches along the lake, right in front of the beach that was filled with a couple thousands eager triathletes just about fourteen hours earlier. After chatting fo ra while, Mike and I got our Bike and Run Bags from transition and picked up our bikes and dropped them off with TriBike transport. We saw Jeremy and his family and they said they were heading back to the hotel, so we walked back. On the way back, after I grabbed Mike and myself a piece of pizza from the finisher’s area. I couldn’t do an Ironman without getting my piece of pizza since it is one of the many jokes in my favorite Ironman YouTube Video which makes fun of the completely insane lifestyle of someone training for an event that rewards your self- torture with a piece of cold pizza. I must admit, the pizza tasted really good.
At the hotel we spent about an hour chatting with Jeremy and his family about the day and then my parents, Mike and I headed back to town to watch the midnight finishers and eat dinner. I was now STARVING and kept insisting that we get food. As we approached the finish chute, an amazing man who was featured at the Athlete’s Dinner who runs (well, walks) the marathon portion of CdA every year in full firefighter gear, including an oxygen tank, was making his way to the finish line. We watched a few more finishers make their way before we posted up at the Italian restaurant right next to the finish line. We ordered food with hopes of finishing before midnight but ultimately finished too late. We could, however, see the finish chute from where we were sitting and could hear the finish line. When a small group of finishers came down the chute, followed by motorcycles, signifying that t hey were the final group to finish, I got up from my seat and went to the outdoor patio so I could watch them finish. After a few moments we heard Mike Reilly call them in.
If you are interested, here is the video that was played at the Awards Ceremony the following day (which we missed). It highlights the entire day and those final finishers are featured at the end (Mike is also in this video if you fast forward to about 22:30 and watch you will see him cross the finish line!):
Despite getting to bed at 12:30 on race night, we naturally woke up early on Monday morning. We had heard that you had to get in line early (7 AM) at the merchandise tent for the prime finishers gear, so we headed over and got in line around 7:30. There was also a finishers party which included free breakfast and some entertainment (a magician showed us tricks while we waited in line and there were kids throwing fire!). I ended up purchasing the finisher’s sweatshirt instead of the jacket. I just didn’t see myself wearing a jacket like that on a regular basis (not to mention it cost $15o) – sweatshirts are more my style and in budget. Plus I’d already spent a ton of money on Saturday getting gear.
We took two naps on Monday – before lunch and after lunch. Then we met up with fellow blogger Katie and her husband for massive beers. After one small beer and one massive beer for each of us, we were pretty tipsy. It was really fun to hang out in person with someone who I feel I know fairly well through her writing.
The rest of the time spent in CdA was spent lounging or walking around. We found a delicious restaurant with amazing butternut squash ravioli on special and went there both Monday and Tuesday for lunch. It was over 1.5 miles of walking in total to get to the restaurant but it was totally worth it and probably good for us to be moving anyway. We also posted up in a coffee shop that looked like it could belong in Encinitas (i.e. hippie) for several hours, drinking coffee, eating breakfast croissants and blogging/surfing the net. Our B&B had a jacuzzi so we also spent some time relaxing in it on both Monday and Tuesday.
Back to Reality
We flew back to San Diego on Wednesday and went back to work Thursday. Thankfully it was only a two day week at work otherwise I’m not sure I would have made it. I read in Going Long as well as in various articles online that it is essential to take it easy after the Ironman. It can take up to a month to recover from the race and there should be no efforts above Zone 1 in the first 12 days at a minimum. I have been training my butt off in the 1.5 years since we started P90x, trained for our first marathon and then trained for my first triathlon and then Ironman, and for the first time since 2010, I am relaxing. I have not completed a single workout since June 24.
Surprisingly, I’m loving it.
Just before the Ironman we watched the documentary Forks Over Knives which espouses a plant-based diet. The documentary was extremely compelling (I plan to write another entry about it later).Immediately following our viewing Mike and I decided to change our primary protein intake from animal based to plant-based after the Ironman. I’m not saying I’m going to become vegan (people get scared of that word), I’m just exploring a diet of less meat and dairy. AS Mike likes to say “it’s a spectrum” rather than “all or nothing.” In situations where I cannot control my diet, I won’t make a fuss about eating meat or dairy, but if I have it under my control, I will avoid it.
Mike and I have been to two farmer’s markets since we got back from CdA and have filled our cupboards with delicious, nutritious grains, veggies, fruit, legumes and nuts. I’ve already tried four new recipes that are outstanding and I feel absolutely amazing. In the days following IM we were eating lots of greasy, fattening food and my body wasn’t feeling great. As soon as I changed to this mostly plant-based diet, I have felt incredible. I can’t wait to explore it further.
Weddings, Vacations & Showers, Oh My!
Although I do intend to get back into working out soon, for this first month post Ironman I promised myself that I would only work out when I felt like it, and I’d only do workouts that I felt like doing. My body actually feels fine and I’m starting to crave working out again, but instead I’ve been letting it rest. I’ve also been focusing on a lot of things that fell on the wayside during Ironman training – things like eating meals with friends, organizing my closet & cleaning the house, planning bachelorette parties and laying on the beach with a book. Oh yeah, and sitting on the couch on Saturday morning with a cup of coffee and watching So You Think You Can Dance.
Last weekend I attended a bridal shower (I’m a bridesmaid), this weekend I”m going to Vegas for a bachelorette that I planned (bridesmaid again, different bride), in two weeks I have my 10 year reunion and another bridal shower, the following weekend we are headed to Davis for Mike’s mini-college reunion and I have two weddings (I’m MOH in one!) and two bachelorette parties in August. I also have a half marathon in August – AFC – which I have ran the last two years. I do plan to train for this race, but it’s not going to by my #1 priority. There is more to life than triathlon and racing and PRs and I plan to do some catching up and spend some quality time with good friends over the next few months.
Do you take time off after a big race? Any big summer plans!?