Monday, March 29, 2010

Surviving the Post Race Come Down

It has been almost 2 weeks since our return and still I don't feel we are back into regular routine. It probably didn't help that we both returned with chest infections, children needing our attention, work to catch up on, a blocked sewer to add to the chaos, and lots of phone calls and emails to send reliving the race and our China experience.

The elation of grabbing that Kona spot remains (flights, accommodation and car hire have been booked - it may be early days but we have been warned to get in on it as soon as you can as places book out and prices rise!) but Ironman's body is suffering and general enthusiasm for life is rather low.

The days after the race are ones of mixed emotions which obviously depends on wether the race was considered to be successful or not (which all depends on your goals) and most significantly, the body is in shock and in need of desperate re-cooperation

I have come across a few articles about how the race effects the body and mind. One I must mention (after discovering it on our trip to China) is by UK triathlete Mark Klentheaous titled "Beating the Post Race Blues" who has a great website (will dedicate a separate blog to this website one day soon).

Mark reminds us that after an Ironman race, which is "one of the most physically and mentally demanding challenges of the sporting world", the body will suffer both physically and psychologically. Even after the soreness in the body subsides there is a lot of internal recovery still happening. I remember reading a while back it takes six weeks for the body to be back in condition and ready to take on the next challenge!

My Ironman returned home with a chest infection, the usual aching limbs and a body that needed readjusting, toenails sore and black and ready to drop off and a bit of chafing (thank goodness it wasn't as bad as our NZ experience!).

What you can't see - I keep having to remind him- is a the massively compromised immune system that can't fight off the infection and a come down from the highs that any major event in your life can bring. It didn't help that he had to jump straight back into a suit and tie and deal with end of quarter sales stresses at work. This is the reality that is easy to forget.

This is the time that you must continue to eat well, fill up with vitamins and herbal supplements to boost the body back to health - and rest as much as possible!

The rest part is not easy for someone who has been training so hard for so long. They can't sit still. Exercise is part of daily life. A stress relief. A time of oneness to reflect or time of togetherness with  mates. It was also the means to a long time goal that is now no longer. It is not easily given up even when the body tells you to take time out.

It's now that I realise I have an important role to play. To remind him to take it easy, keep exercising but easy and short sessions, fill him up with good food, spend more time with the kids and around the house, discuss the race (the outcome, the highs and the lows), set new goals, and make plans for how we manage the next Ironman challenge.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Home with ticket to Kona in our hands!

What an experience!

A week has past and thanks to the China government I was unable to post any blogs so apologies to those who kept on checking in. (Something to remember if visiting - blogs, chat sites, facebook etc, censored in China!)

Have so much to tell so will post a few blogs and photos over the next week, and will create a page filled with all the useful information I have acquired on the trip for anyone who plans on traveling to the China race next year.

But what I really wanted to shout out in this short post is "WE ARE GOING TO KONA!!!"
Those were the exact words I screamed at the top of my lungs amongst an amazed and smiling group of Chinese as I watched my dazed but determined husband run down the finish chute and under the arch, grabbing the banner high into the air!!

He did not quite realise his goal had been achieved but his coach, family and friends who had kept an eye on the stats throughout the day were already jumping for joy and downing a beer (as he lay in the medic tent with IV and ice packs all over him - more on that in another post)!

He had pushed himself physically and mentally more than ever before in one of the toughest Ironman races. (The Pros were saying that with the heat and wind on the day it was Hawaii on a bad year!) Despite a few set backs before the race, he pushed through with only positive thoughts and the belief he had it in himself.

I am one proud - but exhausted - Ironman Wife!

Will sign off so we can recover from trip and come out of the daze and disbelief but will be back soon with many stories to tell.

A favourite quote of mine to consider (one I have heard around the tri traps) which I know was going through my Ironman champions head last Sunday:


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Off we go!

Bags and bike are packed and waiting at door. Kids have relocated to grandparents and cat at local vet. So quiet. Can't really believe we are off in only a few hours!

Ironman was ready to go 2 days ago.  "Bring it on" he says after yet another training session - and then he remembers what he is up for!

Past Ironman events have been watched and re-watched, nutrition calculations have been made and purchases of just a few more essential triathlon accessories and extras are all in the past  (how much for chafing cream? I exclaim!)

Next challenge is getting a guaranteed ride to airport in taxi big enough for a bike box (refuse to rely on local maxis taxis again!), glide through airport as everyone watches you maneuver box and bags (at least no prams and kids trailing behind!), get on and off 2 planes and through Chinese customs with bike intact! Then we can tackle Ironman.

Recently my girl friend and I joined the local triathlon club (thought we might give a few mini ones a try) and yesterday I asked my friend if she was getting the fairly regular chit chatty emails that now enter our inbox since we joined up. When asked wether the amount of them or subject matter was bothering her (I personally had deleted a fair few without much of  glance) she replied - not at all! In fact she was enjoying them. When we quizzed her on this, she commented that she enjoyed getting an insight into a new community of people who have a passion for their sport and she could feel the comradery amongst its members.

When I reflected on this today I thought how true it is that the triathlon community, wether it is your own local club or the wider community of Ironman organisers and competitors across the world, is one of acceptance, friendship and encouragement. (am sure I would have come up with many more positive descriptive words if I was not so tired!)

We have made some great friends over the years through triathlon, and we have always felt welcome at events, supported and encouraged by other competitors and their support teams, and walked away from each event (wether as a competitor or a spectator) feeling as though we have just been part of something special.

As we venture to China tomorrow I know that even though we know no one else going, once we arrive we will be swept up amongst it all, welcomed into the Ironman China community, and leave a week later with special memories - and maybe even some new friends.

We also know that so many of our triathlon friends who won't be at the race - as well as our own family and friends  - will be there in spirit sending vibes of encouragement and best wishes. We are already feeling it - thank you all.

I will do my best to post a few times (maybe even with pics) and don't forget to follow the race on Ironman Live!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Putting it into perspective...

Had an interesting conversation at the beautician today. As conversation led into body hair and men and yes, my husband shaves more often than me!  - it then went a bit like this:

Her: So he is a cyclist. Does that mean you are woken at 5am in the mornings as he heads out for a ride?
Me: Yes, but I am used to it and I just turn over and go back to sleep.
Her: I get that too when my husband goes for a surf. How often does he do it?
Me: Most mornings - actually he races triathlons so he doesn't just cycle.
Her: Triathlons! Wow! They are true athletes.
Me: Agree. Takes a lot to master 3 different sports.
Her: Does he race often?
Me: Actually we are heading to China next week for Ironman China...
Her: Ironman! Now that is not just about the body, it's about the mind.
Me: Absolutely agree - and the conversation goes on....
Her: I really admire people who can do that!

This is not the first of this type of conversation I have had over the years with people I come across during my daily routines.

It reminds me that those people who are not amongst the triathlon community or who have not had a loved one race an Ironman event are often in awe of the people who compete in these races. Some may think they are crazy to put themselves through so much training and push their bodies to the max, and they may not totally 'get it' but they appreciate the distances and what it takes to compete in such a race and view it as the ultimate test for body, mind and soul.

The effect a conversation like this has on me?

I remind myself that those of us whose loved ones are training for an Ironman may sometimes need to put things in perspective. When we are managing the daily training schedule in our lives we don't think much about what this race means to our loved one and what an achievement it is.

Using the words of current Hawaii Ironman Women's World Champion, Chrissie Wellington, it's hard work, dedication, discipline and sacrifice but it's worth it!

Wether your loved one is a Pro, a dedicated age grouper or training for their one and only Ironman event, you have to admire that they are willing to challenge themselves physically and mentally to achieve an ultimate goal and have an experience of a lifetime.

We could trudge along in the regularity of daily life quite happily but what life is about is challenges and experiences and doing something different. Although racing triathlon is not my passion, I am very proud  and happy to be taken along on my husband's journey and be part of the adventure and experiences it brings to our life.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Can't Sleep...

Woken by kids and high mind is racing about China! What am I worrying about since I don't have to race?

9 sleeps until we leave and I my thoughts are jumping between what has to be done for work and home before we go, schedules for kids while we are away, packing list to make sure we are all organised and there is no last minute panic and what will we do while we are there?

I did quite a  thorough Google search earlier tonight and was shocked by how little information there is to help us with our planning.

Ironman China website has all the race info and some basic travel details, sponsor hotel website has usual hotel stuff, TriTravel who we have booked with (great idea for travel company) really does not provide anything other than bookings and essential travel documents, not found as yet any good Hainan tourism information websites and all the blogs found are focused on the race!

Makes me even more determined to provide a thorough report on this trip and my experiences as a supporter so I can help others who go through the same next year and beyond!