Adjusted Reality

“Reality can be beaten with enough imagination.” – Mark Twain

Month: May 2017

The Aftermath

The week after the Ironman was not quite what I expected.

Always expect margaritas though…

I expected to be more tired and sore.  Not to say that I wasn’t, but it was maybe like third-or-fourth-worst-sore-marathon level and not get-me-a-wheelchair level.  Steps were hard for about 2 days, but that was it.  I was more mentally out of it… the day after, I spent 4 hours sitting by the pool kind of staring off into space, not reading, talking much, or anything, just sort of existing.  The extreme tireds caught up pretty quick once the caffiene in the coca cola, the race excitement, and the booze benders wore off.  I have spent quite a few 12 hour+ nights in bed with reading and sleeping combined.

I expected to spend the week sort of in a happy, post-IM bubble.  The day we got back, we had to say goodbye to our little old man schneider skink Lump.  It wasn’t a surprise because he’s not been doing so well, but he went way downhill while we were gone and it was time.  That, plus a bunch of other shitty shit happened last week and I felt like I needed a do-over.  However, the weekend combined leisurely lunches out, getting a few things done that were nagging at me (but not too many things so it didn’t feel like a hassle), and a whole lot of vegging on the couch binge watching Netflix.  We finally drank our post-race champagne on Sunday and I wore my damn medal and screamed YOU ARE AN IRONMAN a lot.  I felt redeemed.

I expected to be a LOT hungrier.  I definitely didn’t limit my portions and may have wanted a full ‘nother meal after my reasonably sized lunch two days after, but I felt less compelled to eat like an asshole because Ironman training actually let me kinda eat that way already.  I actually had vegetables and fruits last week in decent quantities.  By three days out, I split a burger between two meals because it was too much food.  I know when I nail my nutrition in training I’m way less hungry afterward, so this is perhaps confirmation I did just that at the race.

Plenty of foods but I wore my wetsuit and my bike helmet as well.

I expected to want weeks away from my goggles, my bike, and my running shoes.  We rode bikes with the group on Wednesday and it felt good, but 18 miles was PLENTY.  We swam with the tri team in the lake on Friday, but once around the quarry (750m) was enough.  25 minutes on the cruiser to lunch and groceries on Saturday in the heat and the wind tuckered me out.  The will is there, but the body is definitely saying that short bouts a couple times a week are the way to go.

I expected my knee to hurt more.  It’s not been completely pain free, but since the day after, it’s hurt less than any point 2 weeks before the race.  I have no idea what brought it on, like AT ALL, and I have no idea why doing an Ironman made it feel BETTER, but I’m still giving it enough space (read: no running or heavy lifting until after vacation) to repair itself.

I expected some weird body stuff, but not quite what I’ve experienced.  I still feel like a bag of water, literally almost sloshy, STILL a week and a half later.  The inflammation is real with this one, and this week I’m going to take steps to actually try and FIX it instead of probably aggravating it more with junk food and drinking beer and whiskey like water (and forgetting to actually drink water).  I’m hoping its working it’s way out because I have to pee like ALLLLL the time and it’s getting old.  Also – doing an Ironman makes you hair grow.  Literally.  I had an INSANE amount of stubble on my legs the day after, like a week’s worth, and it had been 2.5 days.  Weirdest thing ever.

I might have bought all the merch like I’d never be back but… hurrrr…. I  *really* want to do another one after I get all some of my life shit together…

I expected to be more one-and-done, or at least not wanting to do another one of these for a long time, but then again, I haven’t at any other race distance so I’m not sure why.  I really do feel a draw to do this one again.  That finish line is addictive.  Not next year because I have other priorities, but maybe 2019?  2020?  Definite possibilities.

I expected to have a little more oomph to get stuff done last week, but I always expect that and it never happens.  I was lucky to just do a basic level of adulting.  I might be an advanced beginner adult this week.  I’m adjusting my expectations here and I’ll work on getting to the intermediate/advanced level (read: the big to do list with appointments and house stuff and other projects, oh my) once I’m back from vacation.

So, it’s been about a week and a half.  I am definitely feeling a little of the post Ironman blues because I had absolutely zero things scheduled starting April 23rd.  This was totally intentional for a lot of reasons, but I expected to welcome the break a little more than I actually am right now.  It is completely unreasonable, but I kind of wish I was ready to jump on the swim/bike/run train.  The Ironman marketing team are evil geniuses because today I got an email telling me to NOT let my training die and sign up for IM Boulder this summer.  Argh, yes, that sounds great!!!

But no.  I need to face some other things.  As weird as it sounds, it sounds WAYYY more comfortable right now to jump right back into 12-15 hour weeks and ignoring the rest of my life.  Hopefully, that will pass soon as I remember what it’s like to have my identity not tied to Ironman for a while. As I get over the hump of “I’ve eaten healthy and counted calories for 24 hours, why have I not lost 15 lbs yet?”.  As I remember that it’s actually pretty awesome to just be a person who is active for the fun of it (and maybe sometimes to earn a little extra food) and not just because it’s on the training plan.

So, week one was really just surviving + a small amount of activity.  How about week two?

Definitely bikes.  Because always bikes.

I’m back to tracking food and weighing myself.  No specific calorie goal this week, just get back in the habit and try to keep it reasonable for my activity level. To be honest, I logged my weight the last three mornings without my glasses on so  I couldn’t see it, but I ended up checking it out today and it’s not *quite* as bad as it could be (189.8 which is about 3lbs up but also 5% more bodyfat/bloat than a month ago).  It’s time to shift my eating to mostly fruit and veggies and lean proteins and some grains and eschew the things that have fake orange coloring and come in a plastic tub or crinkly bag.

Water, water, water.  I know this will help with feeling like a water weenie, it’s just haaaaaaard when I don’t really focus on it.  My goal is to have four 24-oz Polar bottles independent of anything I drink while/directly after exercise.  So far this week I’ve done pretty well.

Still on the “whatever, whenever” plan but I’d like to do some of these things:

  • Ride bikes with friends.
  • Get to the lake to Sup or kayak or even maybe swim.
  • Foam roll and stretch a few times.
  • Spend 15-20 mins doing some bodyweight exercises 1-2 times this week
  • Attend the Pure Austin Expo and play.
  • But most importantly, 10k steps per day.  I slacked on it this week.  I need to be taking my 2-3 walks per day at work and maybe one in the evenings if I don’t have enough steps.

In terms of goals and to dos, I’d like to do a little bit more than surviving I did last week:

  • Get a haircut.  It’s time.  I waited until after the race so I didn’t have to worry about an awkward cut that wouldn’t ponytail, but I am definitely in need of my annual shearing.
  • Clean out the Prius and get it washed (or wash it ourselves).  It’s been on my list since January, and we did the Xterra last weekend.  It would be nice to tick this one off the list so we can…
  • Schedule an appointment next week to take it in for it’s 60k service.  It’s only 2k overdue. 😛
  • Gaming on Monday, early mother’s day on Saturday, volunteering for Rookie Tri on Sunday.

Since I’m still operating at the advanced beginner level of adulting, however, I’ll cut myself some slack if I don’t get to everything.

Ironman Texas – Run Party

Part 1 here (pre-race, swim), part 2 here (bike).  Follows is the thrilling (?) conclusion to Ironman Texas.


Getting out to the run was a relief.  At this point, I wasn’t going to get hit, kicked, punched, scratched, drown, or die of dysentery from swallowing canal poop.  I wasn’t going to wreck on my bike, get a flat, have my wheel fall off, fall over unclipping, or have to bike around the world to end up on the other side of a freeway.  You run or you walk (or crawl, but I was hoping I wouldn’t get to that point), and I had almost a full workday to do a combination of those around the 26.2 mile three loop course.

Assessing the situation after running about a mile and then walking through the first aid station I realized that a) my knee wasn’t thrilled with everything but it was holding up and b) the transition from walking to running was the worst part, so I resolved myself to try to run as long as I could and then take decently long walk breaks (about a mile running then 1/3 mile or so walking fast).  My average pace was staying around 12s, so I was fine with how things were progressing.

Let me just say that the run was my favorite part of this race – the course was a PARTY.  There was the sexy nurse helping us up the steep dirt hill.  There was hippie hollow (and there was no walking in hippie hollow, rules are rules).  There was slingshot corner that made you feel like you were in Tour De France with everyone cheering in your face.  There were two girls just standing at a random corner (under a floodlight in the dark) in the middle of a hidden trail encouraging everyone.  The Moxie crew was out having a dance party and slapping asses.  I gave at least a few hundred high fives to random people.  I kind of really want to come back next year, not to race (not yet), but to cheer people on because everyone was having SO MUCH FUN.

On the second lap, I made run friends with a gal from Delaware and a guy from Austin who were running together.  We were right about the same pace, so I hung with them a while and we chatted, for the life of me, I don’t remember about what, but it made the time pass a little faster.  However, we got to a point where handling conversation was hard for me and taking energy instead of helping.  Also, while we were the same pace, I realized I needed to run longer and faster than they were shuffling, and then walk longer, I told them to go ahead and I’d catch up.

I went past special needs again around mile 11.  I did some math, and figured that leaving my stuff there until mile 19 would be good motivation for me to hurry back and not take too many walk breaks.  I ran and walked and ran and walked and kept hearing “Hey Bicycle Sport Shop, your husband’s just a few minutes up ahead” (apparently he stopped a few times and asked spectators to look me up on their trackers and told them to look for me).  I hit the 13 mile marker at 2:43 garmin time, which meant I was on track for about 5:30 if I stayed consistent – the top of my expectations!  Yay!

If we made our own sign are we our own spectators? 🙂

On the third lap, I got to special needs with about 30 minutes to spare (yay), and I straight plunked down on the ground and had a picnic.  I chugged my chicken broth and coconut water, ate some chips, I used my pvc pipe to roll out my back and legs and hips (and then gave it to the volunteers to do the same!), I tied my shirt around my waist, grabbed my headlamp, and got going… like 10-15 minutes later.  Oops.  Apparently Zliten was just leaving special needs when I got there.  We missed each other by just a minute.  I might have had a little less tea time if I knew I could have left more quickly and potentially have caught up with him but I also kinda really needed the break.

I was hoping to be able to run most of the rest of the lap after my little picnic, and I got one good mile in after the stop, but about mile 21-22, my knee just kind of let me know it was DONE.  So, instead of run/walk, I changed to a 13-15 min/mile powerwalk.  I really think that walking a marathon is more painful than run/walking.  Not being able to alternate hurt the rest of my body SO MUCH MORE, all I wanted to do was run a little, but every time I tried, my knee was like HAHAHA NOPE!  Then, the other knee joined in to the NOPE NOPE NOPE party.  Super fun times, but I knew I just needed to press on.

So, I resigned myself to being one of those people you see on the Ironman videos walking in the dark with my glowstick necklace and bracelet (which HAD to be purple, no idea why, but it was VERY important at the time), and just tried to keep it as speedy and with a mission as possible.  The last thing I wanted to do was push it too hard and lose the ability to even walk and miss my chance to finish.  “I’m not in a hurry” didn’t ring QUITE as true in my ears, because damn, I was ready to be done, but I made myself repeat it while I powerwalked and tried to keep the grumbling to a minimum.

I was popular with my headlamp and had some walk buddies for a while, but due to different paces or bathroom stops, I didn’t stick with anyone for long.  I did realize at mile 22, I was sitting in a stinky porta potty longer than necessary just to rest my legs (get up get up GET UP).  The bottoms of my feet were on fire and I couldn’t figure out why – I figured out later that I had a giant blister on the pad of each foot, OW, I’m actually thankful that those didn’t come into focus until after the race.  Other than that, besides just wanting to be DONE and frustrated that my legs wouldn’t cooperate to make with the running motions instead of walking, I was just doing just fine, taking care of business, enjoying the crowds, and soaking the last bit of my first IM in.

Let’s talk about my stomach and nutrition.  I had untold amounts of gatorade and water (but a lot, like *having to pee 3 times* a lot), one coconut water, a cup of coke about every other aid station, salty snacks occasionally when they were available, some fruit, and I had my own chicken broth and two other cups along the way.  I had two gels and a full pack of blocks.  I took two sets of 303 muscle relaxers (one at the start, one at special needs), one tums because it sounded good, and two salt pills at spec needs.  My stomach felt rock solid the entire run.  My only fail was a little bit of self-flagellation on the last 5 miles (if you can’t run you totally don’t need nutrition, right?) but other than that, I couldn’t be happier with how everything but my cranky knees held up.

I wish I had 27.5 miles of 8:30 min/mile pace.  That’s a 5k for me on a really good day…

Let’s also talk about my garmin being EXTREMELY rude.  For the first two loops, it was significantly behind.  For example, I’m hitting the 14 mile marker and my garmin is saying 13.5.  The last lap, at some point it completely flipped the other way and at mile 23, it said 23.5.  I tried to stop looking at my garmin because I knew the course signs were probably right, but by the end, it had me pegged at 27.5 miles…. ><.

I hit the waterway, the crowd support starting to thin out a *little* nearing 10pm, but there was still a lot going on, which helped keep me going.  I did the down, over, saw Zliten heading to the finish and got a hug, then around, rang the last lap bell with fervor, and finally when I made the turn with a quarter mile to go, I started running.  Eff it.  My knees could deal, I wasn’t walking across the finish line.

The finish line is pretty magical and TOTALLY worth it.  You feel like a rockstar.  Hundreds of people are cheering for you, you get the cool red carpet, the lights are bright, the music is loud, and as Mike Reilly calls you an Ironman, you look and feel a lot like this.

Run time: 6:28:04

Total time: 15:56:12

The run was almost 30 mins slower than expected, just like everything else was a little slower than expected.  I really had pegged my finish time to be between 14-15 hours on a good day.  I can nitpick how crappy my swim form was in the washing machine and how I can maybe stay in aero more and have the wind suck less on the bike and try and HTFU a little more on the run, and for eff’s sake, maybe take less of a nap in transitions (and porta potties and special needs…) next time.  None of that matters.  This time, I got my money’s worth and got to savor almost 16 hours of playing triathlon in The Woodlands and then I got to join the exclusive Ironman club at about 10:45pm on Saturday, April 22nd, 2017.

Post Race:

Joining the club means a shit-eating grin on my face and being deliriously happy at my volunteer catcher.  She got me my finisher shirt and hat and some water, and then I went to look for Zliten who sent me back in the picture line and we got pictures together where I just look crazy eyed and sunburnt and bloated and probably won’t buy for 30 bucks each but it was VERY important we did that, apparently.  Then, my salvation… the crappy post race slice of cheese pizza.  I ate three.  It was everything.

The rapid recovery boot people had chairs open, so we ducked in and now THIS was the best thing ever in life.  Then we got our morning clothes bags and I bundled back up in my fleece and pjs, and we made the trek back to T1 to get all our bagsbagsbagsbagsbags.  We had originally planned on walking it all back together but it was a LOT OF CRAP and bikes so I stayed with our mound of stuff and Zliten got the car (thankfully, he got someone to give him a ride back to the garage).  Next time, we’ll stick a key somewhere else we’ll have at the finish so we don’t have to do that.

Late night post race noms.  Notice the bottle opener.  Ironman wanted to prepare us for the next week of beer drinking…

I was prepared for some ugly stomach stuff, either RAVENOUS hunger or extreme distress, and I had neither.  I had an easy mac, watermelon, chips and a beer when I got back to the hotel room at 1:30am, but my fueling and hydration was on point enough that I drifted off to sleep and didn’t wake up in the middle of the night starving.  I ate two big meals and snacks the next day, and some more beer.  Monday was probably the worst of it, where I ate a meal and then immediately wanted another one, but by Tuesday, I got a burger and had to split it into lunch and dinner (with a salad) because it was too much food.

I was prepared to undertake some extremely low points, to have it feel like a long and terrible day.  I was just amazed at how much my training, which I thought was on the minimal side of things, prepared me.  The swim was rough, but at least I wasn’t swimming into the chop at Pflugerville for 2 hours.  Biking into the wind was mentally draining, but it wasn’t like rolling the 6 hour Pace Bend loop 14 times in the wind and the rain and the cold or climbing hills into similar gusts on 360 and Bee Caves halfway into my first century ride.  That TERRIBLE marathon I walked a lot of last year taught me that if your body starts to give out, just keep going towards the finish as fast as you can however you can.  I didn’t ever think about never wanting to swim again, throwing my bike away, or only running 5ks in the future.  In fact, I think I figured out why people really love Ironman races and I’m pretty sure even at the finish line I was plotting my return.

I was also prepared to have some sort of mental revelation or religious experience or feel different or whatever, but I honestly don’t.  Yes, it was a damn big deal to finish this race.  I had convinced myself otherwise the day before “well, if *I’m* doing it, it’s not a big thing” and I realized at the end that it was indeed a huge accomplishment.  But it wasn’t just Saturday that changed me.

It was that after this last 4 months, training for a half ironman will never feel quite as long ever again.  It was becoming a cyclist vs a scaredy triathlete that bikes outside very very occasionally.  It was conquering my first century ride, after a few failed attempts.  It was running 20 miles and getting up to ride bikes the next day.  It was those long days where I triathloned from sun up to after sun down and pushed my limits beyond comprehension.  This was really just a celebration, and a validation, of all that work, that it was enough, that I was enough, to travel 140.6 miles on my own volition in under 17 hours.

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