It has been a week since Ironman. During the actual race, in the last third of both the bike and the run, I never wanted to do another one. A few days afterwards I played with the idea, but at this point, I'm taking a break from triathlon. Next summer I might do an Olympic or even a half, but a 2013 Ironman will not be on my schedule.
It just takes up too much of me.
It takes up time. So much time. I can train for a marathon with my maximum training day being around 3 hours -- I'm done around 10am and I can still spend the day at the zoo with my kids or head out to the swimming pool.
With Ironman I faced many 7 hour training days, which actually amounted to more time than that once you figured in water breaks and changing clothes. Peak training season was ridiculous. But yet the thought of skipping a key workout was terrifying because my body would not be prepared for race day. There was a 14% DNF rate at last Sunday's race, and I believe many of those people were prepared.
It wasn't just time in actual training, though. It started to take over my life. Recovery from those big workouts wore me down throughout July. I was exhausted and often fell asleep with my daughter after singing her to sleep... at 8:30pm. I'm glad I wasn't working during July -- had I kept up my training and family responsibilities as well as the added work responsibilities, something would have suffered, and that most likely would have been time spent with my children and husband.
The recovery this past week has been more than I anticipated. I wasn't very sore, but my body was absolutely exhausted. I tried a quick 2 mile run three days after the race and that put me back at square 1. I just have had absolutely no energy for the past 7 days. I'm sleeping 12 hours every night. No energy to the point that carrying my 15 month old around in the hiking backpack on our camping trip this weekend for two hours put me out of commission for the rest of the day. The conditions of this particular Ironman - afternoon temperatures reaching 94 degrees and no shade- probably wore me out more than a cooler race would have, especially considering I spent at least two hours in a state of extreme dehydration (the combination of tingling limbs, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, double vision, vertigo, lack of urination, sweating and salivation, low blood pressure, and a pounding headache is never a good sign.)
When they put the medal around my neck on Sunday, I was so glad to be finished, but I didn't have that "magical moment" when they called out my name. I just felt too sick. And as I laid on the medical cot, I thought that doing an Ironman was actually a pretty ridiculous thing. Obviously the human body wasn't really meant to do what it had just done, otherwise I wouldn't have ended up with said symptoms and hooked up to a bag of saline solution. I had trained properly, I had hydrated properly, I took in calories properly, and I still ended my day with a fine team of doctors and nurses -- and so did close to 700 athletes. I spent $700 to race nearly 14 hours and rip my body to shreds so I could call myself an Ironman.
But I don't regret doing it. It is an achievement that has made me realize I can do anything that I put my mind to. My daughter sort of gets it -- she has seen how much training and effort went into this, and I think after competing in her own race last week, she sort of understands what it means to push yourself physically, even when it's no longer feeling good.
However, I don't need to do this year after year after year. A couple days after I finished I started to wonder if I could find a cooler race and train a little harder and get closer to my time goals, but as others on my tri-team started announcing their Ironman plans for next summer, I realized I don't really want do do one. Next summer I plan to spend more time camping and hiking and less time worrying about if I'll be able to find a lap pool within driving distance or spending too much time away from my bicycle.
So what will I do with the rest of 2012? I want to improve my marathon time, the biggest goal of all being to shave 15 entire minutes off my time and qualify for Boston. My running has actually gotten slower in the past two months as I focused on endurance and keeping my heart rate in Zone 2, so I am excited to get back into speed training in the next few weeks.
In 2013 and beyond -- I also am hoping to get into trail racing, possibly doing some ultramarathons in the next couple of years.