I know what you’re thinking- Ugh, she’s going to talk about Superfrog AGAIN??? Indulge me one more time, because I think it’s important to talk a bit about what happens AFTER a big race like a half ironman.
Let’s start with what physically happened to my body. I expected to be sore, and I certainly was, but not as badly as I expected. My quads felt wrecked, and negotiating stairs was a challenge, but other than the quads, sore calves, and a stiff back, I felt surprisingly good. The soreness cleared up and I was back to walking like a semi-normal person again by Wednesday. I say semi-normal, because while the soreness cleared, the blisters were gnarly. Right on the inside of both feet below the big toe, giant, bloody blisters that took weeks to heal. I didn’t have a blister problem while training and thank goodness for that, because I could not put on tennis shoes for quite a while thanks to these demons of pain.
Then there was the hunger and dehydration. Articles about dehydration say that you the best indicator of hydration is the color of your pee. Light is hydrated, dark is not. The day after the race, mine was brown. Not dark yellow. Actually brown. A few chugged glasses of water cleared it up, but that was definitely a first, and a bit unnerving. As for hunger, I expected to be starving. After a big workout I would always crave a burrito the size of my head, so it was definitely odd that for the whole week after the race I was sort of vaguely hungry yet nothing sounded appetizing. Nothing. I had to force myself to eat. I was really looking forward to eating an entire pizza guilt free given the 3500 calories I burned during the race, but sadly I just wasn’t interested. What a wasted opportunity.
So physically I was in pretty good shape, which meant that my months of training had done their job. Mentally, however, I was kind of a mess. That swim experience really screwed me up. I could feel it during the race itself- running along the shoreline, I could feel my nerves rise at the sound of the crashing waves. After the race I saw so many Instagram pictures of the surf and read comment after comment of people talking about how bad it was and how many people weren’t able to even start the swim. I recounted my own story to so many people and kept shearing them say how crazy it was that I had even attempted it, how dangerous it was, how fortunate I was. My scary swim started to become something even larger in the retelling, and it added to my already high anxiety. Looking at pictures of the waves from that day, I could actually feel my heart rate picking up. I didn’t sleep well for a week. Driving by the beach no longer gave me a happy California dreaming vibe- now it was a place that brought back memories of suffering and defeat. Even jumping in the pool for the first time- 3 weeks later- brought butterflies into my stomach. I forced myself to work through some stuff on that pool swim- put in a short but hard paced effort and reminded myself what it felt like to be in control of a swim. Then two days later I put on my game day attitude for Esprit de She, and once I cleared the pack and smoothed out my stroke I felt like swimming was fun again. I wasn’t sure I’d get to that place.
I think the biggest challenge of all has been reaching a goal I worked at for six months and finding that it was not what I thought it would be. I don’t feel elation or accomplishment like I thought I would. I wear my 70.3 shirt to humble brag a bit, but like I said in race recap #4, I just didn’t find joy in racing long distance. And of course, for 6 months my every day was planned with super long workouts and prep for the next day’s workouts. Without that routine I’ve been a bit drifty, and I’ve enjoyed it. I’ve enjoyed picking up a set of dumbbells again (which was shockingly tough!) and participated in the Tone it Up 31 Day Challenge, building strength in my arms and core again. Three pounds fell off my body as soon as I scaled back the long distance cardio to 30-45 minutes and added weight workouts- even without much of a diet change. While weight isn’t much of a motivator for me, but it’s been interesting to note how my body responds to change and a new challenge. In general, life has continued a bit goal-less but much more balanced. I’ve enjoyed living in the day to day, finishing my workouts first thing in the morning and then moving on without thinking about the next workout. The time for planning next season is near and I’m warming up to the idea of it, but it’s not here yet. For now, I’m enjoying the feeling of just existing in a space where triathlon is part of my life, but it’s not my entire life.