It will be soon 2 months post IMMT and I still haven't written any of those navel gazing posts about my life "as an Ironman". But here it is, you cannot escape it now. I've been asking myself what to write because this whole time felt like a 12 step recovery process that took me through all kinds and ups and downs. But I must be at least at step 5 or 7 right now and thankfully I haven't yet signed up for another Ironman, which makes this post as objective as it could be, or so I hope.
The week after the Ironman - all happy, all the time. In retrospective, I blame the endorphins for it. Not only I didn't feel much pain and I even thought that my knees were healed thanks to this race, but I was also ready to climb mountains and swim across oceans and bike across Canada and the US. I actually continued not to feel any pain for about a month, which allowed me to hike up Mt Tremblant, walk 10km a day for 4 days in NYC, and even sign up and complete another (sprint) triathlon.
After coming back to work at the beginning of September, I was convinced that I had to sign for another Ironman race and I found myself hitting several registration pages and abandoning the process while flipping the card to grab the numbers on the back. Every single day, I could not keep myself from thinking about racing again. The fact that I had kept my bracelet and made the silly promise to myself and everyone around that I would only remove it when I would sign up for another one, was like pouring gasoline on the fire.
I was also crying, a lot. For no reason, and I was coming back home every day, feeling lost without a goal, without that shiny carrot that helps me moving forward. At the same time, the aches returned to into my joints and muscles - back, knees, hips, neck - the usual suspects - but all at once for good measure. And of course, I had maxed up all my RMT, ART, PT, Acupuncturist and Chiropractor allowances. No more TLC from medical professionals - just me and my foam roller (ugh). I was constantly wallowing in self pity and it was rather pathetic to watch.
After volunteering at Muskoka 70.3, and once my birthday came along, I finally made peace with signing up for another 140.6 "right now". I decided that I would do at least Muskoka 70.3 next year (and will probably sign up early to take advantage of the early bird price) and continue to work towards a healthier, stronger ME in the meantime. It's going to be my gift to myself - a more able body to take me through more Ironmans - but only when I feel ready physically to tackle another one. I am 40, for crying out loud, and I only started "playing triathlon" 3 years ago, because it looked like a lot of fun. I was not born or built like an elite athlete, so for me, it's all about enjoying life and the process of tackling new challenges - not qualifying for Kona or finishing on a podium - the kind of discipline that those feats demand sounds absolutely terrifying. I choose to believe that I am not defined by my performance or my physical appearance, but rather what I have in my heart... and if it takes me to pushing new limits, so be it, but if not... No biggie.
Not working out in 3 different sports like before left the space to boredom, and after a few weeks of sitting on my ass and not doing anything - nada - I could feel the mojo leaving me and even thinking "what if" triathlon was not the answer to my happiness after all. I got in a sort of funk. The less I was moving, the less I wanted to get moving. I just didn't feel like doing anything, but at the same time I was hating myself for it.
Once I finished the Lakeside Tri and the pain returned with full force in my legs, I made the decision to start working with a personal trainer. I know that it will be a long process, but I am finally ready to let go of my current fitness and focus on the things that I can improve, such as imbalances and weak glutes. I am looking forward to starting with fresh legs. I have not run since Lakeside, exactly a month ago and I plan not to run until my knees and ITBs give me exactly zero signs of distress, even if it takes them three more months. I will continue biking, ellipticalling and swimming, and of course, strength training - all in moderation - but not running.
So now I am back to training, but I am not following a specific program. I am just trying to stay active and keep the blood and the endorphins flowing. I talked to a coach once and I ended feeling pretty shitty about myself when I admitted not being able to train without external accountability and/or a coach. I cried for 2 days afterwards and I was ready to unfriend half of my contacts on Facebook, but eventually I got over it. Not everyone IS a coach or has her innate drive and dedication. Some of us live with this thing called dependability and don't get me wrong - I know that it's a crutch and a handicap at once, but I am now dedicated to reducing some of this dependability and stand on my own a little more... baby steps, yes, even at 40.
Okay, so that's 7 mental steps to recovering from the Ironman. Are there MORE? I am looking for feedback from those who made the trip down this rabbit hole and came back alive. Do I need to hire a shrink? Or do I need to sign up for another one to put an end to my misery? Here's that dependability again... Oy vey.
But enough with the questions. For the next post, I decided to answer yours. Ask Me Anything - for real, and sorry that I don't have Reddit. Nothing is taboo around here.
(I did not include any photos on purpose. Are you sad?)