The Road to Recovery

It has been a glorious 5 days since the Ironman.

Mostly because it’s been a non-stop celebration of the event, and because I’ve not done a darned bit of exercise since the event.

Monday I felt pretty tired, as would be expected.  I went to the expo that morning to purchase some finishers gear.  There was a finisher jacket, which I purchased online because the line to get into the tent was absolutely ridiculous.  It took an hour just to get into the store.  I also purchased a robe, an icon for my car, two shirts, lounge pants, a cup, a robe, and a beanie.

What the hell right?  I’ll never do this again.  All week I’ve worn Ironman stuff.  I think I’ve earned it.

And I mean that.  I thought about it right after the event.  Now that I know I can do this, the natural inclination would be to think about another.  But I think that would cheapen it somehow.  It wouldn’t mean as much if I did it again.  This way, I know I am an Ironman and don’t have to keep that lifestyle.  I can go back to lower distances and know that I am doing them because I want to do them, not because I am not capable of more.

We ended up going back Tuesday because it just plain made sense.  I had done what I set out to do, and it was no longer necessary to keep my wife and my dog in Louisville.  On Wednesday, I contacted a local tattoo shop and they happened to have an opening so I took it and got my tattoo.  You can see it below:

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I loved the reaction in the tattoo shop when I went in. All week I’ve been in a place where everyone knew exactly what the IM is.  I went into the shop and said “So Sunday I did an Ironman” and their reaction was nonplussed: “And?”.

The tattoo is pretty much exactly what I wanted.  They did a great job. I anticipated lots of people asking me if the tattoo hurt, and I have an answer ready: “Not as much as earning it did”.

Over the last week I have recovered faster than I thought I might.  Tuesday was a hard day because I was in the car all day, but by Thursday I felt 100% again.  Each day I got around better than I anticipated.

So whats next?  Well, I have a half marathon in November that I will start running for on Monday.  It’s more formality than anything, something to give myself something to do.  I really don’t need to do any more than maintain fitness to do that.

Second, I want to readjust my intake and body weight.  I was taking in 3-4K calories a day for the weeks leading up to the event.  Now, I’m not needing near that many so I need to get my body to adjust to lower calorie levels again, preferably before Thanksgiving.  I’m already down to 172 despite not doing any exercise because my body is shocked by 1500-2000 calories a day again.

On Monday I go back to work.  It’s been a good break, but I am ready to have a normal week again.

So I go into my weekend nursing my new tattoo (harder than I thought when I got it) and looking forward to new adventures.  This one is done.  I made it.

I am an Ironman for the rest of my life.

Cheers!

The Better Part of Valor

August 28, Day 191

Weeks Workouts: See description.  


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I suppose it was bound to happen eventually.

Tuesday I set out to do my speed-work run, which was a 5 min Z1/5 min Z2/25 min Z3/5 min Z2/5 min Z1 run.  I like to think of it as a “stair step” run.  It was a warm evening but not terrible.  I remember feeling thirsty as I hit the turnaround to come home, but other than that I was feeling great.  No problem hitting my paces.

At 28:28, I felt my right hamstring twinge.

Uh oh.  Happily I’m not as dumb as I used to be, so I shut down immediately.  I tried to walk it out, but no dice.  I pulled it.  It’s a mild pull, but a pull nonetheless.

If you’ve never done this to your hamstring (the long muscles in the back of your upper legs) let me tell you just how much you use that muscle (hint: it’s a lot).  It’s painful, and it sucks because it’s coming at a critical time.

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So I stopped walking and called for a pick up to go home.  It was a lighter week in terms of volume, but a lot of speed work.  I did my swim on Wednesday OK, but my hamstring felt “loose” all day.  On Thursday I had a bike, and I did that OK too without many issues.  By Friday when I swam I knew it wasn’t right yet, but the pain was gone.  I was staring at a 90 min run on Saturday and figured we would see then.

And see I did.  I knew deep down it was still not right but I had to go out and test it.  I was nervous going out, babbling and stalling until I finally got myself out the door.  I was fine, everything felt OK.

For two miles.  Then it clenched up on me, HARD.  Now all my mind can say is:

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I tried to stretch it out, but no go.  I called for another pickup, frustrated as all get-out, meanwhile madly googling on my phone for tips on what to do.  I found one that said to shorten my stride and go extremely high cadence, so I tried that and it worked OK.  I mean, I could still feel it, but that was enough to shift the impact away from the muscle.  When my wife came to pick me up I waved her off an told her I’d stay nearby but was going to try it.

Yeah, I know how stupid that sounds, but I had to.  Mentally I had to know if I could continue if this happens on the race. The good news is, I was able to finish all 90 minutes.  But it cost me and I was sore the rest of the weekend.

This time I set out to heal it properly.  I stayed off it all weekend and properly iced and stretched it.  I even canceled my bike and swim on Sunday to get an extra day of rest.  That caused me no end of anxiety, but it was the right call.  One day of missed workouts is not the difference at this point, but healing this muscle might be.  So, I didn’t do my 3 hours on the bike or 2000 meters in the pool.  I’m hoping discretion is the better part of valor.  But still, missing a workout is not what I want to do right now.

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Today I am wearing a support sleeve and iced the muscle again this morning.  I’ll also do it at lunch and after work.  I still feel it, but it’s mild again.  I hope it will respond quickly because I get right back on it tomorrow.  I can’t miss lots of days right now, and I have a huge dress rehearsal on Sunday with a simulated race of 1200m swim/4.5 hour bike/45 min run.  I gotta nail that.

So, looks like lots of icing, stretching, and getting acquainted with this guy again are on the docket until it gets better:

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Meanwhile, keep me in your positive thoughts if you can.  This is a delicate time as you can see since I have dipped under the 50 days left mark.  These next 3-4 weeks are where I build the fitness that will carry me though the race.  I need to persevere or this whole adventure might end.

Wish me luck.  Cheers!

Glad it’s Friday

May 26, Day 103

Yesterdays Workouts:

  • 60 min bike, 5 minutes Z1, 40 minutes Z2, 15 minutes Z3

Today’s Workouts:

  • 45 min run, Z1
  • 1750m swim, 300 yd Z1, 1150 yd Z2, 300 yd Z1

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Wednesday I was able to get back in the pool for the first time in weeks.  It felt weird, but it was good to do since that’s really the best way for me to do speed work.  It’s hard in the open water to know when you’ve gone specific distances and rest.

It was also a bit weird because this guy in a speedo decided that, despite the fact only two lanes were in use and there were 5 open lanes between us, to get in the lane next to me.  It’s kinda like in the guy’s restroom when there are several urinals and you are at the end, and someone walks past 3 open ones to use the one next to you.  I mean, sure, there’s nothing WRONG with it….but it’s kinda like uh, why?

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Yesterday’s bike was deceptively tough with 15 minutes of Z3 at the end and no cool-down.  I battled through the early part of the Z2 thinking no way, but I was able to hold Z3 all 15 minutes.  That was a confidence boost, and a needed one.  Three bikes on consecutive mornings seems to be the way this plan goes, so it will be an adjustment since he makes the hard one on the third day.  Good training though.

Today’s run was pleasant at Z1.  This is one of those workouts that is deceptively effective because you don’t always need speed, sometimes you need to just log some time while you recover from the hard work.  Keeping it in Z1 allows me to be running for 45 minutes while saving my energy for later work.

Need to hit the pool tonight again because it is closed for Memorial Day.  Speaking of that, hope everyone has a great long weekend.  Cheers!

Unexpected challenges

May 24, Day 101

Yesterdays Workouts:

  • 55 min bike, 5 minutes in Z1, 45 minutes Z2, 5 minutes Z1
  • 39 min run, 5 minutes Z1, 5 minutes Z2, 8 x (1 minute Z4/2 minutes Z1) 5 minutes Z1

Today’s Workouts:

  • 60 min bike, 15 minutes in Z1, 35 minutes Z2, 10 minutes Z1
  • 1500m swim, 250 yd Z1, 500 yd Z3, 500 yd Z2, 250 yd Z1

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It’s difficult in any effort like this to anticipate all the things you’ll have to deal with to make it all happen.  Sure, you can see the plan in advance and map it out on the calendar and it looks great months out before you start.  Then life happens and the calendar fills up with things you didn’t plan on but knew could happen.  So, you juggle and move things around and try to ignore the anxiety that crops up when you do stuff like that.

Then other stuff happens and everything goes out of whack.

I had the start of this all planned out.  With everything happening (graduations, birthdays, events, work, visits, taking care of other people’s pets, pool closures, weather etc) around this time in May I knew it was going to be challenging to start my plan now, but start it now I had to do.  For the most part I’ve managed to stay on top of that with some creative and flexible scheduling, proactive when I can be, reactive when I must.  Thing about it is, I knew all that was either going to happen in advance or likely to happen so I was mentally prepared for it.

But I wasn’t prepared for when my allergies kicked into high gear.  Normally they are fairly mild if I avoid doing too much in the grass but for the past 10 days or so they have been horrible.  I think it has to do with the rainstorms causing a sudden bloom.  I wake up several times a night trying to breath, which obviously does not lead to great sleep or great workouts.  Two nights ago I woke up at 3am with a sinus headache so extreme I couldn’t stay lying down.  I ended up balling my fist into my temple and laying on that because it seemed to help.  Allergy meds help, but they also affect my energy and mood and not always in positive ways.

Not getting good sleep and having trouble breathing properly was definitely not in the plan.

Of course, this can lead to tough workouts where I am more tired before, during and after than I think I should be.  Those cause anxieties that I know, no matter how carefully I explain them, nobody is going to understand.

See, most people who asks how training is going either 1) is doing it just to be polite and really doesn’t want a long answer and/or 2) wants to hear the positive stuff.   I know that.  I get that.  Those who are really interested in my well-being I can tell this stuff to, but how do I make people understand how stressful this can be?  If you have never run a marathon for example, you can IMAGINE what it’s like but you don’t really KNOW.  You haven’t had to train specifically for that event for several months, you haven’t had to run it, and you haven’t experienced how hard those last miles can be.

I know all that, and I know I have to do 114.4 miles before I start mine.  It scares the hell out of me that I’m this tired now.  Every time I move a workout or miss a workout it feeds the anxiety that I won’t be fully prepared to deal with this thing.  Every time I have a bad workout it chips away at my confidence a little bit that I can really do this.  You can put on a brave front and try to keep your mind right if things are going well.  If you’re mentally and physically exhausted, it’s challenging to say the least.

Of course, folks not going through that just see you’re cranky.  🙂

I will see this rough patch through because getting this done is important to me.  Hopefully the allergies will pass, things will calm down, and I can string a few good days together to get my confidence back.  Meanwhile, one day at a time.

Cheers!

 

 

 

Week 1 in the books, 21 to go

May 22, Day 99

Yesterdays Workout:

  • 1500m swim, open water/wetsuit practice
  • 60 min run, 5min Z1, 50min Z2, 5min Z1

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What a whirlwind weekend.

I covered Saturday, well, Saturday, but yesterday was a doozy.  Got up well before 7am Sunday to get that 60 minute run in.  Weather was wonderful.  I am going to miss these 40 degree mornings to run in.  Unlike the rest of the week with thunderstorms and tornado warnings, Sunday was completely calm and clear.  Inspired by the cool air and wonderful morning, I felt great on this run and had to reel myself in to stay within the zones.  One thing at a time.  We all have workouts that suck, so workouts where you just feel invincible are nice to counterbalance that.

Then it was a hurried clean-up and change to have birthday breakfast out with my dad, who turned 76.  In all we had 9 members of the family come out and it was a great chance to spend some time with him before we got into the next celebration of the day.

But first things first.  After breakfast settled a bit it was time to hit the lake and get in a swim.  The water was very cold to start but again, clear and calm conditions.  Luckily there weren’t any boats for this swim to really dodge, and again, I felt great in the water. Wonderful workout.

By the time we got home from THAT, it was noon and time to clean up and get ready for graduation for my older son.  We got him out the door and then headed out a short time later.  The graduation was at the university basketball stadium, and I think it was about a class of 400 from my count.  Before the ceremony I jokingly predicted the cliches we would hear at the commencement, and considered what a fun drinking game it would be to drink every time I heard one of my predictions come true.  Probably a good thing I didn’t actually do it, because I would have drained the flask.

All kidding aside, it was a really proud moment for me and as I watched my son I thought back to when he was born and how quickly time flies.  That’s yet another reason it’s important I get this IM done now and not put it off any longer–time goes quick and someday I may not be able to do it.  Or I may not even be here.  Who knows the future?

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The birthday boy, the graduate, and me photobombing them.

After graduation he came home with us and had a short celebration where he got graduation gifts and ate a dessert of his choice.  By far the best picture of the graduate came from this.

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After that, he took off to celebrate with friends, and we got some chinese takeout out of pure exhaustion.  Frankly eating out twice in a day is bad for my plan, but sometimes life happens and you just have to roll with it.  By the time dinner was done, my tank was empty and I was ready to go to bed.  I made myself stay up until my normal bedtime though, because thats a trap for me–yeah, I may get to sleep at 8, but I’ll wake up unable to sleep anymore at 3:30am.

All in all, great day but a hectic one.  Today is great day for a mental and physical rest.  Looking forward to stepping into week 2 tomorrow.  Cheers!

 

 

Anchors and Adjustments

May 20, Day 97

Yesterdays Workout:

  • 1750m swim, CANCELLED due to pool closed/unsafe weather
  • 40 min run, Z1

Today’s Workouts:

  • 73 min bike, 5 minutes Z1, 10 minutes Z2, 6 x (1 minute Z5 uphill or simulated/2 minutes Z1), 40 minutes Z2, 5 minutes Z1

Lots and lot of things to juggle the past several days and the next several.  It can be challenging to fit workouts in, but luckily everyone is very understanding of what I am trying to do.  It still requires some creative planning to get everything worked in.

Tomorrow, for example, is both my fathers birthday and my eldest son’s graduation.  Dad is having a birthday breakfast at 9, and we have the afternoon at the graduation ceremony and “unspecified” activities for afterwards.  Of course, I have 2 workouts to get in and no pool. So, the plan is to get up early and get my hour-long run in before breakfast, go to breakfast and let it settle, then head out to the lake around 10:30-11, get the swim done (hopefully with no fishhooks) and then head home and clean-up in time for graduation.

My son, the graduate:

If it sounds like I need the workweek to recover from my weekends, you aren’t far off.  It’s only going to get more interesting too, as some of the Sundays on this plan require 8 hours of workouts.  I must really, really want this:

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Actually, yeah.  Yeah I do.

Yesterday I tried to take Scully, my mini-aussie, with me for a run.  I don’t know what it is, she runs with the wife just fine, but with me she wants to follow, not run alongside.  This means Im constantly holding the leash to keep it from tangling in my feet.  Which is fine, I can deal with that, but whats hard is when she becomes a bit of an anchor while I’m trudging uphill.  As a result, my Z1 run felt like I was working harder than I should be, while going slower than I needed too.  Sigh.  Sometimes she’s stubborn like that.  I guess she didn’t WANT to get up early and run.

Actually, maybe she’s smarter than I am.  Hmmm.

Also, she has one annoying habit I need to figure out how to train her out of: she wants to chase the squirrels.  While I’m on the other end of the leash.  So sometimes suddenly my hips get yanked sideways as she takes off towards a tree with a squirrel under it.

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This is so my dog.

What was really surreal though was as we were running under an overpass, there was a HUGE raccoon just sitting there on the sidewalk.  We went around it and the raccoon could not care less we were there.  Interestingly, Scully never moved an inch towards it.  Smart girl.  That would have been interesting.

Today’s bike was good.  I had planned to do it outdoors, but slick streets coupled with bad allergies convinced us otherwise.  I was able to really focus on the 6 Z5 intervals though, so that was good.  Here’s hoping I have enough legs to get through tomorrow.

Probably won’t post tomorrow with everything else happening, but I should be back Monday.  Cheers!

No Man’s Land on the lake

May 18, Day 95

Today’s Workout:

  • 60 min bike, 5 minutes Z1, 20 minutes Z2, 3 x (5 minutes Z3/3 minutes Z1) 5 minutes Z2, 6 minutes Z1

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To start off this post I will admit something: I am not a fisherman.

When I was younger I would go to the lake with some worms and try my luck.  I never caught anything big, but it was exciting as a kid to get a bite and reel it in.  But mostly I found it to be a whole lot of doing nothing.  Actually, a whole lot of doing nothing that requires slimy worms, fish guts, poking your finger with hooks, and smelling awful.  But I think what really broke me of it was the rule in my house that if you kept the fish, you had to clean and eat it.

I don’t eat fish.  Never have.  So all I was doing was immediately letting anything I caught go.  To me, this is the definition of pointless.

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This works too.

So I haven’t fished in over 30 years, easily.  I am saying that up front so I can establish that I don’t really understand the other side of what I am about to talk about.  I admit that.  If any of you ARE fishers, feel free to comment and talk from your side of it!  I’d love to understand this better.

The only place to open water swim nearby is a place called Tuttle Creek Lake.  It’s a state park and below the dam there is camping, picnicking, fishing, frisbee golf, etc.  There is also a swimming area.  There is a half-circular tube that goes around the area (you can see it in the picture below) and the area inside that is quite small and shallow enough so the little ones can play in the water safely.

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Out beyond that about 25 yards there is a second semi-circle of buoys, white ones that designate SWIM AREA, NO BOATS.  This is where the deeper water is, and it’s really the only practical place to really do any distance swimming as the other area is too shallow, too small and too congested.  I and many others choose to follow inside this line of buoys when doing open water swimming practice.  It’s kind of a “no-mans-land”, because it sort of feels like you shouldn’t be out there as a swimmer, but boats aren’t allowed in either.

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Apparently however, those buoys are THE PLACE to fish.  I don’t know if there are more fish clustered around the anchors or what.  And boats constantly lurk just outside, casting their lines into the zone inside the buoys.  Obviously this is a concern, because you don’t want to get hooked.  That can ruin a $200+ wetsuit in a hurry.

Yesterday there was an older gentleman with his dog doing just that, who yelled at us several times “YOU AREN’T SUPPOSED TO SWIM THERE”.  I’ll be honest, he’s probably right.  But I don’t think he’s supposed to be casting inside the buoy line either, and something about him having the whole lake to fish in and me having only this 200 yard semi-circle to swim in, and him yelling at me to essentially get off his lawn irked me.

I ignored him and swam anyway, but gave him a wide berth because I can’t help but worry he’d cast his line across our path out of spite.

The swim itself?  Pretty warm for May, but 20 mph winds created a lot of chop.  It was great practice for dealing with waves and trying to sight while the current pulls you off course.  It’s a river swim for IM Louisville so I am certain to have to deal with some of that.

Ultimately I don’t have any other realistic way to open water practice so I guess I’ll keep swimming there until they throw me out.  Let’s hope that doesn’t happen.  Cheers!