Category Archives: Iron Life

So. . .What’s Next?

A crucial part of my preparation for the Iron Distance race this year was to have a plan for after the event.  That was something I didn’t do the first time, despite having the example of my partner’s experience with the post-Ironman-letdown in front of me.  Looking back, I think I was simply so overwhelmed by the Ironman training (even though I kept telling myself that I wasn’t really overwhelmed) that I just had no mental or emotional energy to try and think about what would happen afterward.  The post-Ironman depression is a real issue and not just for first-timers; I’ve seen it strike experienced and novice athletes alike.  You finish the Ironman, it is an epic experience, you are pumped, you vow to just take a couple of weeks off and then get back into training, maybe pick up some late-season races. . .and before you know it, it is January, and you are sitting slumped on a couch in your underwear and pulling navel lint out of a belly that has doubled in size in two months.

But enough about me.

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What makes a village?

Most of the time, doing an Iron distance race seems to be about anything and everything except the basics.  Indeed, as I sit here in our rented condo, on the eve of Rev 3 at Cedar Point, and look at the jumble of bags, the discarded wrappers, the piles of carefully sorted food, the elaborate checklists that are crossed out, asterisked, scribbled upon, starred, lined and creased, I’m reminded again of the old adage that an Ironman is a logistics event with a little bit of swimming, biking, and running thrown in.

But today I was thinking about how it really does come back down to some very basic things, things like showing up.

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The Daily Grind

The title and subject of today’s post suggested themselves to me when I was biking home yesterday wearing one of my favorite bike jerseys: the Uphill Grind was the place where the Team Z cheering station was located during Ironman Wisconsin and Mary grabbed me a jersey from there, which just happens to fit really well and look really cool.  It serves as a reminder of how much fun Wisconsin was, the massive amount of Team support that helped get me through the day, and that the nirvana combination of bike and coffee shops does exist.

So the jersey got me thinking about the prep for this year’s Ironman (sorry, Irondistance. . .aw, screw you WTC and your “branding,” I’m going to call it an Ironman) coming up in Cedar Point at the end of September.  I realized that I hadn’t updated this blog for quite some time.  The reason is pretty simple.  Nothing particularly significant has happened during the training so far.  That fact itself, however is pretty significant because it reflects a marked different in both my training and mental approach this year.

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The Post-Game Show

The Problem
Finishing an Ironman can be one of the most amazing experiences of your life.  It can also set you up for one of the most dispiriting episodes of your life.  The phenomenon of post-Ironman depression is real although it strikes people in different ways, and its causes are many and varied.  Some of it is no doubt simply chemical.  You spend the better part of a year working out not once a day (which would represent a considerable buzz for most people) but often twice a day.  Sometimes you are working out for hours (and hours, and hours) on end.  You are saturated in a heady mix of endorphins pretty much all the time.  Then suddenly you are cut-off as abruptly as Lindsay Lohan sent to rehab.  But it is more than a chemical-dependency problem.  Especially when you get to the latter stages of an Ironman you spend a lot of time dreaming of/fantasizing about the time when the race is over and you will get your life back.

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Life Changing Events

Santa came slightly early to our household this year, probably because he realized that packing two bikes into his sleigh wouldn’t leave a lot of room for presents for the rest of the general population.  Mary had been wondering about the wisdom of getting a tri bike for a while since we’re doing Rev 3 Cedar Point which is basically flat.  The unknown was the Challenge Wanaka course.  However a little research showed that it is considerably flatter than she had been expecting, and doing these two races back-to-back would seem to make a tri bike a good investment.

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Voices Suddenly Silenced

I fear something terrible has happened.

I was up late last night (and in the middle of the night) checking in on friends and team-mates participating in Ironman Arizona.  Those who have done an Ironman or have supported someone who has knows that it can be an emotionally wrenching experience for all concerned.  For the athlete, obviously, but if you are part of the support crew and your athlete ends up not having a good day, it can be wrenching to watch them suffer.  So I knew that when I was hearing about people finishing, watching their online results gradually update throughout the day, seeing photos, that there would be a lot of emotions: exhilaration, sympathy, empathy, painful cringes, and so on.  What I didn’t expect was that it would lead to an overwhelming sense of loss.

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It’s On

Next year is going to immerse every US citizen in a world of hurt.  So I thought I’d try and distract myself from all of that by immersing myself in a world of real hurt.

Yes, that’s right, for those of you not in the US, the country is heading into the silly season.  We’re going to have to endure the painful idiocy of the Republican Primary process, and the painful idiocy of the absence of a Democratic Primary process (I can’t be the only independent re-thinking the whole Obama/Clinton thing in light of subsequent events).  So what’s the asnwer?  Simple: sign up for an Ironman.

So yesterday I made it official.  I, along with my dear partner-in-life-crime, will be racing in competing in trying to finish the Rev 3 Iron Distance even at Cedar Point Ohio, on September 9, 2012.

So far, I’m ahead of my training when compared with last year.  I haven’t been running.  Nor have I been to the pool since. . .well, let’s just drop that line of inquiry, shall we? I still have a bunch of “interesting” painful twinges from taking a hard spill off the bike last week.

I have, however, had my first Ironman (and yes, I know that I’m probably violating numerous intellectual property laws by referring to a non-branded Iron distance race as Ironman, but WTC can suck it) anxiety dream!

So, what did this dream look like?  Well, there was the disturbing fact that the almost completely flat course at Cedar Point had been replaced by one in the middle of the Canadian Rockies.  (Why the Canadian Rockies?  Because those socialist Rockies are obviously much more anxiety-inducing for anyone in the US than good ol’ American Rockies).  But that was OK, because at least I had my mountain bike.  Of course, the thick layer of rust on the chain was a bit of a concern. . .  As was the fact that every man and woman around me seemed to have achieved a negative body fat percentage.  That was when I saw the sign:

World Championships.

It is going to be a long year.  But then isn’t it always?