Ironman 2014 Reflections
Well it is almost two weeks since the race. All the emotion came out when I brought the finishers gear with Ali on the Monday – the reality hit home that I had finished the race and achieved the goal.
Recovery:- My students had an 18 hour run walk for charity on the following Friday and I did the 3:00am -7:00am shift, so to keep warm while supervising I did a 3 hour walk and ended with a 1 hour run walk for a total of 27 km. Since then I walked home from work one evening. Otherwise, I am still resting. No plans at this stage – just a little run down at the moment.
What follows are some reflections about my Ironman Journey.
1. Cost: – clearly not a cheap sport. I have kept a log of costs and I know I could have kept them down but I was only planning to do this once. There was no intention making a hobby out of these kinds of events. Once I take into account Triathlon Australia and Club membership, swimming entry fees, race entry fees, accommodation for race and lead up races, bike services, foods and gels, running shoes…. there was not much change if any under $5000. On top of this I was concerned about the state of my bike and did not want it to break down during the race so I got a modest average entry level new bike to replace the 10 year old bike which replaced the 20 year old triathlon bike
2. Journey: – Clearly the race was important but I got so much more out of the 30 year journey. It has touched so many aspects of my life from a personal, family and work perspective. I am who I am because of 30 years of exercise. For me the 12 months has been about closure, a long held goal achieved and a rite of passage to other things I might want to do without the shadow of unfinished business.
3. Preparation: – An ironman is not only about being physically and mentally prepared, it also is about being organisationally prepared. In my case it involved seeking leave 12 months out, entering the race, arranging where to stay, developing a training approach for the race and lead up races, preparing clothes, nutrition equipment, organisation of time and establishing priorities.
4. Riding: – Do lots of long riding not only to finish the ride but to finish freshly for the run. It is about the bike. You spend most of your time on the bike; it is the leg where the most things can go wrong and the place where you can lose to most time. Yet still for me it was the most enjoyable leg. The more you ride the more you are prepared physically and for all practical eventualities. You don’t realise the benefits till, you reach about 5 hours – you know when you have it right when a three hour ride feels short and you are looking forward to it
5. Self-indulgent:- it is probably the way I approached the 12 months but I found myself more self-indulgent if not selfish. I gave family and friends notice I would not be going out. I would only eat certain things at certain times. Basically it was just about me and at times did not like this.
6. Sacrifices: – yet at the same time as self-indulgence many sacrifices are made. Most of the sacrifices are made by those around you, though you do make some yourself. In my case I did not feel I made any sacrifices as the training was just an extension of what I normally do. In fact the perceived sacrifices were good for me – no beers, cross training, going to bed early and even getting up early…
7. Trust: – have faith in yourself. It is about doing what works for you. There is and will be a lot advice coming your way through reading and you will seek it as well. It is important to listen and learn and apply what works in your circumstances. In my case I started to doubt my 6 km runs even though I knew this was the approach that enabled me to be able to run at all. Any longer and I get injured and would never make any progress.
8. Health: – in the last month I did everything to make sure I did not get sick. I kept the chest warm, tried to eat well (though still enjoyed junk food, diet coke and ginger beer), slept a lot and probably under trained and tapered too much so as not to run myself down.
9. Injuries: – I was very lucky on this front. It took me a couple of years to get my body to the point where I felt I could train for the event. Once I got the hip and metatarsal right I had to train to well before the edge of further damage. In February I a few sessions to get my neck fixed and a week out I kicked my toe – otherwise 12 months injury free.
10. Perspective: – I do feel I have a different perspective on life due to the journey. I had lots of time for reflection while training and all these ideas about what I want to do, how I live my life and relate to people. I just need to process them a bit more, prioritise some of the thoughts and not let them slip by making sure I engage in some sort of action.