Monday, September 17, 2007

What Next?

A lot of people have asked this in the past three weeks. Actually, people were asking me before IMC what the heck I would do once I was done. I think the assumption is that I now have to do or want to do something bigger and harder and tougher than Ironman, which really isn't in the plans at all.

I don't necessarily want to go bigger and harder but I do need a goal. I also need something to do! I'm unaccustomed to having all this free time and am a little lost. I've also lost a big chunk my social network as my training partners have gone back to reconnect with spouses, partners, cats, etc. My most meaningful relationship is currently with Louis, my bike, and I actually think we need some time apart so the free time isn't so useful.

I do I think I've finally figured things out. I have a few solid goals, not really related but they hit various needs.

Let's start with the social side. I've decided to play ultimate again if my friend's team will take me. I haven't thrown in almost two years so it will be quite humbling - I left the sport as a solid, if unspectacular, handler so I may be forced to run or play defence instead.

On the training/tri side, Paul asked me "what's next" at today's swim. He also asked a more pointed question, what did I want to achieve with my swimming this session. It made me think about it and have to give a slightly more refined answer than "Be faster."

I want to work on swim technique for the fall then swim speed for next year. Paul seemed to think that was a great goal and suggested that I do a swim overload - swim 3-5 times per week for the next eight weeks so I really dial in the technique and have a good base in place for '08. I'm enjoying swimming quite a bit this year and would like to stay in shape but give running and cycling a bit of a rest so this works for me. Now I have a rough training plan for the next two months and leading into next year - yay!

What about a short-term goal? Having x-ed off one major accomplishment this year I really want to cross something else off my "Life's To Do List", something I've never done but have wanted to do for a long, long time. Yup, this fall I'm gonna go go-karting! I'm a terrible driver and afraid of going fast so I'm sure it's perfect for me. Let me know if you wanna come.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Recovery Blues

I'd heard that getting over an Ironman can take a while. I've been warned not to train too hard or do too much intensity. I was prepared for injuries and aches and pains and even for the post-race blues.

What I wasn't ready for was to have my immune system and GI tract go on strike!

After the race it took about three or fours days to walk properly and get over the soreness from racing. My stomach was still a little touchy after my post-race blow-up/collapse so I was sticking to the healthy and slightly bland choices, but aside from that, YAY! I was ready to take on the world.

The Friday after IMC I came down with a cold, killing camping plans (and causing havoc for a friend of mine who left her cell phone at work and only got my multiple messages after finishing loading up her car on Saturday a.m.). I spent two days in bed then was mostly over it and YAY! now I could resume normal life.

The Monday of the long weekend I went to watch my club mates have fantastic races at the Vancouver tri. A great day, except my big toe was killing me. (icky details follow, skip to next paragraph if you don't wanna know) I decided to take matters into my own hands and pierce the toenail to let off some pressure. I thought I kept it clean and that the needle would be properly sterilized when I heated it up.

About 24 hours after my impromptu procedure I was feeling good again and, yay, finally ready to get back into workout mode. When I got home from work on Wednesday, however, I noticed that the big toe, and part of my foot, were crimson, hot and puffy. Not generally the recommended state for toes and/or feet. After confirming with the BC Nurseline that, indeed, this was not a good condition for a toe to be in and that I should, in fact, get medical attention pdq I found a clinic that was open late and got myself some antibiotics.

I'd made plans to go hiking on Saturday and I was bloody well going to go! Luckily the toe seemed fine by Friday and I survived hiking the Diez Vistas trail with minimal discomfort. It was actually a great day with beautiful weather and not too many people on the trail.

We went to a bar for a dinner afterwards and either mixing beer with the antibiotics was a bad idea or the eatery itself was a bad idea because I had a hellish night and suffered the symptoms of a classic dose of food poisoning. After swearing I wouldn't touch chicken broth again after IMC, it turned out to be one of the few things I could stomach. It was kind of funny that that, bananas and flat pop (gingerale however, not coke) were my staples for two days, sort of like living off an aid station but without the volunteers.

So seventeen days out from IMC I've managed one run, one ride, one swim and one hike. I'd intended to take it easy after the race but this is a little nuts!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Mutual Admiration (and lack of comprehension) Society

My friend Cassandra and I have very different hobbies. Both of us are equally obsessed with our hobby but neither of us can comprehend why the other would spend hours doing what they do. I've spent all my spare time this year swimming, biking and running while she's spent all her time cutting, basting and sewing.

We had a fun conversation last night where I gave her the lowdown on Ironman then she gave me the lowdown on Dragon*Con. While we both had our victories she actually won a prize for her efforts!
The winning costume

I have no idea why anyone would ever spend hours hand sewing 997 buttons onto a costume, but then Cassandra doesn't really get why I bike up Cypress or Seymour (much less both in the same day). I don't get it but I admire her for it.

Congratulations Cassandra!

Sunday, September 02, 2007

IMC Executive Summary

Here you go Dad:

Swim (3.8km) - 1:22:39

Bike (180km) - 6:44:53
first bike segment (40mi) - 2:24:09
final bike segment (72mi) - 4:20:44

Run (42.2km) - 4:31:17
first run segment (13.1mi) - 2:19:41
final run segment (13.1mi) - 2:11:36

T1 (swim to bike) - 14:47
T2 (bike to run) - 6:26

I had a friend comment that in my race report I made it sound easy so let me throw some more numbers at you. In training for IMC I did the following:
453 workouts
over 425 hours
covering 4,373.4 km

Race Recap
The day of the race was spectacular. It was overcast and cool, pretty much exactly what I ordered.

I had clear water for the swim and it was one of my best swims of the year. I believe my perma-grin started as I made the second turn in the water (you get a lot of water in your mouth if you're swimming with a smile!).

The bike course was crowded but the other riders were far more courteous and savvy than those I've encountered in shorter races. I loved the hills as climbing is my biking strength and that's where I had the chance to gain on other riders. The headwinds were hard to deal with but they were only for a short time.

The run wasn't at all what I expected, and I surprised myself with my time. My biggest struggle was to keep my heart rate down. The cool weather was a boost although the winds didn't help on the return.

The energy from the crowds was amazing and the volunteers were fantastic. Racing with 2,600 participants is overwhelming but the fact that the volunteers outnumbered the racers 4,200 to 2,600 is staggering.

Retrospect (one week later)
I don't think I have ever been so prepared for anything in my life as I was for this.

First and foremost my coach set up a great plan and we adjusted as we went along. I think I asked Alan about 50 questions a week!

I had a fantastic group to train with. Everyone was inspiring and helped greatly in pushing me to keep training and pushing my limites. Part of why I signed up for the 2007 race was so I could train with this group and I'm very thankful I made that decision as they made a huge difference.

I had planned everything down to the socks I would wear and how I would cook my potatoes. I read blog write-ups and race reports from people who'd done IMC and other Ironman and Iron distance races. I asked vast numbers of questions of people who'd done the race and were planning to do it - what did they put in their special needs, what did they wear, how did the transitions work, etc. I finally made myself learn to change a flat and even changed my clubmates flats if they'd let me. I became very boring as I ate, slept and breathed Ironman.

Add to that I had luck with the weather and having no mechanical or gastro-intestinal issues during the race.

I want to be sure I remember this if (when) I do another IMC as I know I'll want to better my performance but I don't want to go in cocky about the race as I've done it before.