It’s Friday, I’ve had half a brain all week, so how about some random thoughts for lunch, hmmm?

Ironman brain got me like…

I go between feeling utterly exhausted and having pops of energy that actually surprise me.  Oddly enough, the energy pops seem LESS likely on the recovery weeks, it’s like my body realizes that it’s tired when it gets some rest, heh.  Except the longest of the long workouts, that volume almost doesn’t seem to matter, though.  My energy levels seem to be based on a) how much sleep I’ve had, b) if I’m hungry or just kind of hungry (because full isn’t really a thing right now), or c) how MENTAL my day was.  My body’s completely adapted to the increased training.

I had a theory at the beginning of this that if I threw enough fuel at it, and prioritized recovery, I’d succeed at this whole Ironman thing.  So far, outlook good.  I have no idea what will transpire at the race, but at this moment in time, I’m happy with the training I’ve accomplished and how I’ve grown as an athlete preparing for this thing.  I’m sure after the race I’ll be like “NEXT TIME I’M RIDING 100 MILES EVERY WEEKEND FOR 3 MONTHS IF I EVER DO THIS AGAIN” or something.  But, where I plant my flag today, I’m pretty confident I have the fitness to at least crawl across that line.

I’ve kind of crawled into a training hole for a few months and I’ve actually liked it.  I feel like during the last few cycles, I’ve tried to “have it all” by not losing my social life and still staying up late more often than I should and stressing out about not neglecting other things in my life.  This four months was about Ironman.  We prepped our family and our friends.  I think we’ve actually been better social animals than I’ve expected but then there’s the thing that neither of us could be arsed to throw ourselves a birthday party that involved coordinating other humans besides ourselves.

Still have a lot of smiles through this season and I’m not even faking it!

I’m feeling a lot less burnt out than I was last cycle.  I say this even having taken a “mental health day” yesterday from training.  Not often do I just scrap the day completely, but I really just needed a day to come home, pack up the camping gear at a reasonable hour, and then just sit and watch TV and read for a while.  I thought I needed sleep, but really, I needed an evening to relax.  However, my outlook as a whole is still very positive.  I’m excited for my next training session and next week.  I’m not dreading everything.  I was worried it was a sign of burnout, but sometimes you just need a damn day off.

I suppose the summary of the situation is I feel really dang prepared while also feeling nervous about not having enough any open water swims yet, and feeling like I should be on my bike more because I haven’t done a long ride in… oh wait, that was only two weekends ago never mind.  IM brain in full effect.

I’ve been thinking beyond a bit lately as well.

Where my days will probably look a little more like this…

I’m absolutely going to treat my self for the first couple days after the race.  A conservative estimate on my calorie burn that day will be about 7k calories.  Historically, after a new distance, my stomach is shot.  I’ll be prepared with the normal easily digestable stuff (watermelon, beer, mac and cheese, potatoes, chips, etc) if all I can do is limp back to the hotel room the day of, but I remember after my first 70.3, I flipped back and forth between “I’M SO HUNGRY” and “I’M SO SICK”.  Even though my stomach has been super awesome lately, I expect that to happen again.

So, that means, I’m likely going to be a few thousand calories short April 22nd.  I’ll have fun making a dent in those the next few days.  However, I’m going to try to return to vegetables and fruits a little quicker than I have in the past and dig less of a hole to start climbing out of when I focus on weight loss soon after.  Think of controlled splurges vs SHOVE ALL THE THINGS IN MY FACE.  And if it’s more of the later, some of those things should be broccoli and blueberries.

Long term, I’m still uncertain as to the shape of the rest of the year.

I KNOW want to get strong again.  Quite by accident, but when I started running, I had come off a few years of strength training at least 3x week with at least semi-heavy weights.  In other words, I had earned the right to run.  I feel like I’ve been cheating that right as of late, and y’know what?  I run slower than I used to, probably with worse form.  I’d like to fix that, like REALLY fix that.  I’ve put bandaids on it figuratively with doing some bodyweight/lighter weights this cycle, and literally with a #hashtag KT taped on my back every Saturday for my long session of the week, but I’d like to get rid of that thing where my literal ass muscles give out before my endurance.

I also know that whenever I’ve successfully lost a decent amount of weight, I’ve been lifting 3-4x a week.  So, that kills two birds with one stone.  My goal is to find that sweet spot in activity level where the weight actually goes down (too little or too much, it’s hard to control my eating).  I don’t feel like I need to shun running, biking, and swimming completely like I did last year when I hated everything.  However, I won’t run for a while when it’s not perfect, I’ll probably not ride my TT bike for a month or two at least, and swims may be a 50/50 chance they will be with a snorkel and camera instead of a mileage goal.

Or maybe I’ll just ride around town with a 15 lb kettlebell like Zliten did that one Sunday.  Although there will be a lot less of those CARBS than there are now…

Zliten likely has to have a non-emergency type procedure done at some point this year, which will mean during that recovery time, I’ll be on my own.  Movement has become part of life so I’ll still do *stuff* but the timing of that will definitely impact at least one of the races we normally do over the summer.  I’ll have to decide if I want to fly solo or just skip things entirely.  Either way, there will be some last minute sign ups or just a mellow summer without a whole lot of bib pinning.  And after 10 months of planning and working towards this Ironman, I’m totally OK with either.

It seems like a shame to let all this crazy endurance waste away, but that’s exactly what I plan to do.  I mean, I’m sure I won’t lose it completely because people will occasionally want to go play bikes all day on a Saturday and I won’t have a training plan so of course we’ll go.  And a beautiful day will pop up and we’ll go run until we’re too tired to run any more.  However, it won’t be like the reality I live in now, where 7 hours of training or a 13 mile run is totally appropriate for a rest week.

By the fall, I’m hoping that that will sound crazy to me, but running a somewhat close to 25 minute 5k won’t.  Endurance seems to come pretty easy to me.  I will have built back from almost zero to IM in the span of two four month blocks with a two month break.  Endurance builds with showing up and logging the hours.  Speed does not.  It takes something more.  I appreciate the people who can be fast and go long at the same time, but I’m not there (yet or maybe ever).  And I’m looking forward to trading in the long dull ache for the short sharp one for a while.  It’s always good to have new pain.

Enough day dreaming.  I will go play in the woods at the Ren Faire this weekend and I’m always afraid I’ll come home too exhausted but I also know that I typically come home feeling refreshed.  And then, next week it’s on.  One more feat of strength.  But, we’ll talk more about that next week…