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!

Breaking in new shoes….and when did fluorescents become a thing again??!?

May 5: Day 82

Today’s Workouts: Run, 5 minutes Z1, 10 minutes Z2, 20 minutes Z3, 10 minutes Z2, 5 minutes Z1

Weight: 173


Does everyone dread breaking in new running shoes, or is it just me?

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I’ll admit, I’m THAT guy.  The guy who has holes in the tops of his running shoes and has worn all the way through the sole so you can see the colorful spongy part underneath before I finally replace my shoes.  I know, it’s bad for my feet, but breaking in new shoes can be painful.  I always feel so clunky in them (probably because the sole is actually there) and getting the laces right so they are tight on my feet but don’t pinch anywhere usually takes 4-5 runs.

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Yeah, I’d rather put it off and run another hundred miles in my shoes than that.  I know, it’s a quirk I need to get over.  But nonetheless, it’s real.

I mention all this because I put today’s run into a new pair of shoes after ignoring my Strava warning 8 times that I’d put too many miles on my old pair.  I think they have over 800 now.  I’m especially wary this year because another thing I’ve dealt with is achilles issues that I swear come from breaking in new shoes.  So I need to time this so that I have a pair in good condition but fully broken in for the IM.  I think I need to buy my IM shoes now, put 100 miles on them, then put them away until the event.

Anyway, working on a college campus I usually get to see all the new fashion trends.  For years now, I have charted the change of seasons by when the young ladies switch out their leggings for Nike soccer shorts and back.  It’s like clockwork.  But recently I’ve noticed one of the worst fashion trends of the 80s coming back: Neon.

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The real reason to “Just Say No”

Suddenly it’s pretty much EVERYWHERE.  I sort of get it for running outside in twilight for visibility, or as an accent on your shoes, but it appears to be back as a pure fashion statement.  People in head to toe, NEON.  Hats, jackets, shirts, shorts, leggings, socks, shoes, all looking like you ran through a highlighter factory explosion.  Omg, my eyes, they bleed.

Maybe it’s just an 80s revival in general?  Today I actually saw a 19ish woman wearing the denim jacket with buttons look.  You know, this one:

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Anyway, that’s all I got today.  Cheers!

Being Tested, and Being Inspired

Apr 20: Day 67

Today’s Workout: Run, 5 minutes Z1, 21 minutes Z2, 3 x (5 minutes Z3/3 minutes Z1) 5 minutes Z2, 5 minutes Z1

Yesterday’s Workouts:

  1. Bike, 5 minutes in Z1, 35 minutes Z2, 5 minutes Z1
  2. Swim: 500 yd Z1, 5 x (100 yd Z3/15″ rest) 250 yd Z1, 5 x (50 yd Z4/20″ rest) 250 yd Z1, Lighting closed the pool, bands.

Weight: 173


First of all, thanks to those of you who reached out and asked if I was OK given the stresses I mentioned in some previous posts.  I’m good, I promise.  We all go through tough stretches.  That’s part of the journey too, and I promised I would tell it straight, so sometimes that stuff will come up.  But I appreciate it.

That being said, the last few days have felt like a test of my resolve.  NONE of my three workouts have gone according to plan.

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First, my bike yesterday got pushed to the evening because the wife and I failed to coordinate who would be on the bike trainer when.  When I went down to bike, I heard the bike trainer going and realized I hadn’t let her know I was planning to bike in the morning too.  Now that we are both in training I need to get better about planning that stuff ahead.

No big deal, I thought.  I went back to bed.  Scully was happy with that answer too.

So when I got home from work I needed to try to compress the bike in before the pool opened at 7:30.  I got it done, but meanwhile a thunderstorm was rolling in.  Wouldn’t you know the storm sat over town from 7-10PM, exactly the hours the pool was open for free swimming?  Lightning in the area closes the pool, so my swim was out.  I ended up doing swim bands, which wouldn’t be a big deal but it frustrated me because I had several interrupted swims LAST week.  I worry a bit about falling behind.

Then this morning’s run was a comedy of technology errors.  First of all I was on tired legs, which is pretty normal for Thursday’s runs I am noting.  However, when setting up the intervals on my app apparently I failed to set three intervals, so it defaulted to one.  My first indicator was when it told me I was halfway done with my 60 minute run at 22 minutes.  Then it put me in cool down after the first interval.

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My app tells me if I am in target pace or not, but I wouldn’t have that now.  No big deal I thought, I’ll just look at my watch periodically to check pace, old style.  Except my apple watch chose THAT MOMENT to freeze up on me for only the second time ever.  I’d have to restart it, which takes enough time so that it would basically be useless for the remaining intervals.

Ugh.

To top it off for whatever reason, be it the distractions of the tech or just plain idiocy on my part, I ended up going out too far and so my run ended with me still 3/4 mile from the house.  Since I was already on dead legs I didn’t want to add mileage, so I walked home feeling a bit discouraged about these last few days.

Sometimes God or fate lends a hand.  IM sent me an email with an inspiring video, which I attached below.  After watching that I got teary, I won’t lie.  I’m also gung ho all over again.  I can do this.  The little stuff doesn’t matter.

Cheers!

Easter is over, time to refocus

Apr 17: Day 64

Yesterday’s Workouts:

  1. Bike, 10 minutes Z1, 10 minutes Z2, 4 x (6 minutes Z3/3 minutes Z1) 29 minutes Z2, 5 minutes Z1
  2. Swim: Pool closed for Holiday

Weight: 174


I certainly hope everyone had a wonderful holiday weekend, or just a wonderful weekend if Easter isn’t a thing for you secularly or religiously.

Friday I did do a run, a light one, not the heavy interval one on the plan.  Took the dog out to the hill and ran up and down it several times with her, and jogged at a Z1 for about 3 miles.  This was my compromise with myself.  I spent Saturday resting.  I had a swim on my schedule but didn’t make it happen in the afternoon, and then when the evening came the thunderstorms swarmed in.

Sunday being a holiday the pool was closed, so I need to be on point with my swims this week since last week was so uneven.  However, I did get my ride in and the rest was really beneficial as I was able to hammer through my sets no problem.  I’ve done this long enough to know you do not lose fitness from one or two off-days, so as long as I get back on track I should be OK.

I spent much of the weekend cooking and baking.  I did the turkey several sides and the dessert for our Easter meal.  For dessert I did huge peanut butter cookies since people tend to be “chocolated-out”.  I am not really a fan of peanut butter cookies, but I have a recipe that will make a fan out of anyone.  If you’ve ever been to Disneyland and had one of the cookies in their bake shop, you know they are an inch thick and moist throughout.  These are like that.  They’re HUGE, and yet still moist.  Here is the recipe for those interested:


Disneyland-Style Peanut Butter Cookies
Ingredients:
1 cup butter
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar, packed
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 granulated sugar, for rolling
Optional: Add one bag Reeses peanut butter chips, or one bag Milk Chocolate chips.
Directions:
1. Cream butter and peanut butter together until smooth. Add sugars and beat until combined.
2. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing until just combined. Add vanilla.
3. Whisk together baking soda, salt and flour. Add dry ingredients in 3 additions, mixing after each addition until just combined; do not overbeat.
4. Form into golf-ball size dough balls roll in sugar.  Flatten slightly into thick discs.  Think hockey pucks in both size and shape.
5. Cover and chill or freeze for several hours or overnight.  When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.  
6. Bake 7-9 minutes or until edges are lightly browned and middles are no longer shiny or raw.  Let cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes then remove cookies to wire racks to cool completely.
They will look underdone, but if they hold shape when pulled off the pan they are done.  The cooling process will solidify them the rest of the way.  They also don’t spread much, don’t let that surprise you! 
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Should look about like this, and thick.


I generally get about 24-30 out of the batch.  Depends how big you make them.  And yes, ALL of the leftovers are here at the office since I can’t keep these in my house.
Tomorrow is my first scheduled “brick” workout, which is a run right after a bike.  I’ll have a lot of these over the course of the season.  The idea is to get you used to moving from one exercise to the other.  These are always challenging workouts and not to be done lightly.  In fact, the schedule calls it an “optional” brick, only do it if I feel up to it.
I rested plenty, so I plan to feel up to it.  Wish me luck.  Cheers!

Getting it done, even when you REALLY don’t want to…

Apr 13: Day 60

Today: Bike, 5 minutes in Z1, 30 minutes Z2, 5 minutes Z1

Yesterday’s Workouts:

  1. Bike, 5 minutes Z1, 15 minutes Z2, 15 minutes Z3, 15 minutes Z2, 5 minutes Z1
  2. Swim, 200 yd Z1, 400 yd Z3, 120″ rest, 200 yd Z3, 120″ rest, 200 yd Z1, cancelled due to lightning, 20 minutes bands

Weight: 172


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I nearly didn’t get out of bed today.

Last weekend was a high volume weekend that took me out of my normal routine.  That was followed by a lot of stress and that binge Monday.  The first two workouts of this week, Tuesday’s run and yesterday’s bike, continued the trend of hard workouts.  I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that it’s taking a physical and mental toll.

Then came last nights swim.  I already was feeling unmotivated to go, and then the lightning came and took the pool away.  I had to talk myself into doing the swim band workout for 20 minutes.  Ironically, that 20 minutes was probably harder than the 20 minutes I would have done in the pool.  As I was doing the workout, I had to stop several times, sweat rolling into my eyes, to catch my breath.  This is pretty rare for me.  I actually felt light-headed and a little dizzy and nauseous.

Then last night I woke up at 2am and never really got back to sleep.  Too much stuff racing through my head, and I ended up not getting a solid rest.

So you can probably understand that when the alarm went off to get on the bike this morning, why my first decision was to hit the snooze button.

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I lay there for the 9 minutes, trying to rationalize not doing the workout.  “It may be the smart thing”, I told myself, because I clearly was at the edge of exhaustion.  “Surely you can use the sleep more than the work right now”.  I made the decision to go ahead and sleep the hour rather than mount up.

Then the snooze alarm went off, and I got up anyway and did the work.

It was miserable.  I mean, not just not being motivated, but it was a relatively easy workout and I really struggled physically.  I kept bargaining with myself “OK, I’ll do half”.  Then halfway came.  “OK, I’ll do 30 minutes”.  “Maybe I’ll cut the cool-down”.

I did the whole thing.

Was it wise?  I don’t know.  I think it was because I was able to push through, ultimately, but if my fatigue doesn’t improve I am going to take an extra rest day this week.  Again, it’s a long way to October and I want to get there healthy.  But what I can say is I’m proud of myself for making it happen.

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I know there are a lot of people who look at what I do, especially on days like this, and go “I just don’t have that kind of motivation”  What I would tell them is that it’s not really motivation.  I had no motivation at all today.   Habit, determination and stubbornness were what carried the day instead.  You don’t HAVE to have intrinsic motivation every single day to accomplish a goal like this.  It’s not going to happen.  However, you need the discipline to form the habit, and the habit will give you the stubbornness to do it anyway.  You don’t have to love doing this stuff every single day.  You just have to be able to make it happen anyway on most days.

If that makes sense anyway.  Cheers everyone!

Self-destructive Behavior (and recovery)

Apr 11: Day 58

Planned Workouts: Run, 5 minutes Z1, 60 minutes Z2, 5 minutes Z1

Weight: Didn’t weigh


Yesterday I had my first real, all-out no holds barred binge of the training cycle.

I did my rest day fasting as planned, dinner Sunday to dinner Monday.  I reached nearly the end of the workday when a combination of hunger and personal stress led me to do something I never do — snack in the afternoon.  I went down to the vending machine and bought a package of fruit snacks, ostensibly to tide me over until dinner (to get an idea of how rare this is, I’ve purchased 2 things in 5 years from that vending machine, and the first was when they were out of snacks at a blood drive).

All that did was open the floodgates.

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I didn’t eat that sandwich, but I would have given the opportunity…

From there I had a handful of M&Ms from the jar I keep in my office for guests.  Or two.  Or four.  Then I came home and grabbed some snack mix.  Actually 3 handfuls of it.  After dinner (which was sizable), it was 2 cookies, a half pint of ice-cream and a bourbon.

It’s a wonder I didn’t explode.

This is a pattern that rarely comes up for me now but was all too common when I was heavy.  I do something restrictive with my diet, then a combination of stressors breaks my willpower and I overeat.  It might happen to me 3-4 times a year now, but it still happens.  I’ve never completely killed the habit.

Fortunately though, it usually lasts only a short time.  I woke up this morning feeling better and more focused on being healthy and fit.  I got my run done and re-implemented some of the nutrient timing techniques I’ve used before to good effect–basically you don’t eat less, but you structure your food around your workouts smartly to enhance fueling and recovery.  Since my big run was this morning, it means my calories will be top-heavy at the beginning of the day and taper off as the day goes on.

I’ve often felt that my body is an accumulation of all the good and bad things I do to it.  I’m probably good 90% of the time and not so good 10% of the time.  My body reflects that–it’s in amazing shape for a 45-year-old, but it’s also not perfect.  I don’t really need it to be, because I enjoy that 10%.  Yesterday I did something bad to it, now it’s time to string some good days together and take care of it.  I think that’s a much healthier attitude than beating myself up over this (which is what I used to do).

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Stay focused and healthy folks.  But if you mess up?  It’s OK.  Just get back on the horse as soon as you can.

Cheers!

Rest Days

Apr 10: Day 57

Yesterday’s Workouts:

  1. Bike, 20 minutes Z1, 10 minutes Z2, 4 x (6 minutes Z3/3 minutes Z1) 49 minutes Z2, 5 minutes Z1
  2. Swim, 250 yd Z1, 500 yd Z2, 10 x (25 yd Z5/10″ rest) 500 yd Z2, 250 yd Z1

Weight: 174 (bounce!)


Temporary bounce on the scale.  We did a lot of eating out this weekend since we were traveling, so that’s to be expected.  Hopefully it normalizes today or tomorrow back to where I was.

I did yesterday’s workouts fine, but it was mostly an uneventful day so I didn’t end up writing a post.  The bike was my first 2 hour of the season, which seemed odd to do 6 months before the event, but if I’m building up to IM than it’s probably not too early at all.  It is weird to transition though, because generally I finish my Olympic bikes in half that time so I don’t get up to 2 hour bike rides until closer to the race.  I will have to get used to much longer bike rides!

The swim was good.  I went not thinking I would do the Z5 intervals, but ended up feeling good enough to do them anyway.  Shoulders are sore today though.  I had a young lady get into the lane next to me during this swim, promptly zip up and down her lane and make me feel like a snail for about 400m, then jump out and leave.  I just don’t have that kind of motivation…I don’t think I would bother to get in and leave if I was only going to be there less than 10 minutes!  But, that was all it took for me to feel thoroughly and properly owned.

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Ah well.

All in all, easily my toughest weekend of workouts so far so I am ready for this rest day.  I took the little girl out on a long walk on the Konza this morning, which allowed her some off-leash romp time.  It has been tough to get her much of that since we’ve gotten rain for about 2 weeks.  That gave me some light exercise too.  I try to do just easy stuff like walking on rest days, but I don’t want to be sedentary.

I ordered two Louisville IM in Training shirts because they sent me an ad and I’m a sucker.  They weren’t too expensive, so I got a sleeved shirt and a sleeveless one because in the summer I prefer to run without sleeves.  That way my tan matches my Tri-Suit lines (roughly).  Otherwise I get this weird 3-tone tan look (dark on the lower arms, medium up to the shoulder, white on the chest).  Hilariously, the shirt without sleeves cost $6 more than the shirt with sleeves even though they are apparently made of the same fabric.

How does that work?

Anyway, enjoy your Monday as best you can.  Cheers!