Friday, May 02, 2008

Post Ironman Blues--they're real


There's no such thing. How ridiculous! Sad because the Ironman and Ironman training is over? Sad because I have time to rest, relax, and enjoy life a little? Sad because I'm not chronically overtrained and exhausted? Not me. Impossible.

Turns out, the whole post-Ironman blues thing? It's real. Apparently, I, Iron Girl, was incorrect in thinking I was superhuman, immortal, invincible, indestructible, with special powers. Apparently, I'm not immune to the post-partum Ironman depression.

I was fine the first 2 weeks. The first week, I was in Atlanta for a conference and was too exhausted from the race and stressed out about my talk to feel anything. I was still in crisis mode. 2nd week, I was so relieved to finally be home that I enjoyed mellow club workouts. And then, during the 3rd week, it hit me. Hard.

I feel rested. Healthy. Strong. My body is energized. My mental focus and faculties have been miraculously restored. I didn't even realize they were missing but all of a sudden, my productivity at work has sky-rocketed. I don't need 9 hours of sleep and mid-afternoon naps all the time. My appetite is under control; I don't feel like I have a tapeworm. I've been eagerly looking forward to my once-a-day workouts. I've been swimming-biking-and running fairly well. I should be so happy.

Then why do I have all this angst? I miss being so exhausted that I didn't have any left-over energy to deal with Life. Oh, right. That. Things were so much simpler when I all worried about was training, eating, and sleeping. I miss that. Now, I have to deal with my Problems. Damn. Guess it was bound to happen sooner or later.

Meanwhile, I get frustrated and try to exhaust myself...go out for a hard, fast, hilly evening ride. Ride until my lungs are going to burst and my quads are screaming. I finish as the sun sets, somewhat relieved. Maybe I will be exhausted enough to sleep tonight. But when night falls, and bedtime passes, I find myself tossing and turning, hour after hour, yet again.

This too, as most things in life, will come to pass. I just have to give it time. Patience is something I've never been very good at. Meanwhile, I'm designing my summer training plan. I have a full season ahead of sprint and olympic tris that should be lots of fun. I have a fall marathon that I'm really excited about.

But when I do manage to fall asleep, I dream about two things, and only two things. First, I dream I'm still out there running on the Ironman Arizona course, after the sun has set, the second half of the marathon. I wake up and feel great sadness that I'm not still out there running. I guess a part of me is still in Tempe, still running. And the second thing? I'm flying up to Penticton, Canada to secure my Ironman Ca spot for 2009.

Links to Post Ironman Blues Articles:
http://www.tri-ecoach.com/art17.htm
http://triathletediva.com/?p=104
http://img1.tapuz.co.il/forums/35730075.pdf
http://www.d3multisport.com/articles/fact_fiction.htm

19 comments:

Wes said...

I'm with ya. I get lethargic right before taper starts, then after the big "A" race, its like everything is blah!!! I guess for Ironman its on a grander scale!!

So cool you are going for Ironman Canada... Are you going to volunteer? They had a special line for volunteers at Florida, that's how I got in and out in 10 minutes.

Paul said...

Look at the bright side. you can take all of that fitness and base mileage and turn it into some awesome speed for sprint and olys!

Canada sounds cool.

Shan said...

Rachel, I'm TOTALLY with you. The first few days after the race, I was SO glad to be done with juggling it all. But not even before my body stopped being sore, I felt the same "blech/blah" feeling, too and ironically enough I felt like I was being lazy. Riiiiight. The thing that really helped me was getting caught up at work (I'd like to get that PhD *sometime* this year), scheduling lots of meet-ups with friends (feel free to email me if ya wanna grab coffee sometime!), and constantly reminding myself that hey, I deserve some relaxation. Even now, almost 3 weeks out, I'm forcing myself not to go back to the same rigorous Tuesday-Sunday mondo training schedule, even though my mind and body craves that regularity and structure (and I miss my stealth trips to Golden Spoon).

Life is a journey - ups, downs, ins, outs and everything in between. Remember you have a lot of friends here in San Diego to give you support through the hard stuff!!

So is the dream for IMCA going to translate into reality???? :) I'd love to do that race, but I'm thinking IMFL in 2009 (my sister lives in FL)...

Sending energetic vibes your way... :) I'm doing an easy ride on Sunday if you're interested...

bunnygirl said...

I think it's normal to feel a bit of a letdown whenever one reaches a big goal. The bigger the goal, the bigger the letdown unless there is some new goal or distraction.

Hang in there and you'll be back on the upswing soon enough.

RunBubbaRun said...

I think I'm finally getting over my "A" race blues.. But your body and mind does need some down time...

IM Canada in '09, now that is sweet.. I think that will get you back to the living again..

Chad in the Arizona Desert said...

I can certainly relate. The only way I have been able to deal with those letdowns is to keep my racing schedule full for months out so I always have another race to focus on.

Stef said...

After such a success you had in Tempe it is no wonder the Blues have caught up.

LOVED your race report, read it twice. It is hard for me to imagine gutting it out in that heat for so long! Congratulations big time on your achievement and try not to worry too much about the letdown.

Also wanted to thank you for all of the training information that you post. One of the articles on swimming helped me a lot!

RoadBunner said...

Congratulations on your Ironman! My bunny, Mario, says hello to your buns, too!

Jack said...

Post race blues are real, whether you finish an Ironman, marathon or ultra. I usually deal with it by signing up for another event, this works until the end of race season at least. Congratulations again on an amazing ironman finish!

triguyjt said...

why do you go down so much..suffer the blues so much??? because it means so damn much to give all of yourself..to compete, to sweat to lay it on the freaking line. to go two yards from the edge and never feel so alive as when you are dodging disaster so well.
its okay to be in a funk..
celebrate the blues?!!! stick your tongue out at the blues!!!!
read the darn quote by mark twain on your blog. You went away from the safe harbor..You explored..You lived and you dared to fail..
Remember the Teddy Roosevelt quote about "timid souls"...
You are not a timid soul..
You are... an Ironman.
Have a great day rachel!!!

Rainmaker said...

WOOT! You're going to be up there when I'm up there racing. Freckin' awesome! And likely see ya again at IMC2009!

Mon said...

sorta like weddings. and working two jobs. things ou dont think youll miss planning/doing. before you know it youll be on to some other great adventure!

Kathleen said...

I got the blues after running a marathon, I can only imagine how much stronger the feelings are for an IM!

TriGirl Thea said...

Oh sweetpea. I hope you are feeling better already, but if not...do you think it might help if you gave yourself something else to look forward to in the near future?

A sprint race? An Oly?
A weekend away cycling? In the mountains maybe? Where you can put all that hard won fitness to good use -- having fun? :)

Whatever works for you.

Coach Tammy said...

Yea, I got it, too. FYI, intense exercise in the evening can actually disrupt your sleep. Try to exercise in the morning, or at lunch. Otherwise keep is super easy. Get happy soon :)))

Sherry said...

HUGS!

I definitely don't speak from post-Ironman experience, but the other events that you are excited about (the sprints & olys, the marathon)... run with it girl! Talk about having an awesome base! You should totally rock at those events. Look forward to all of the speed training and the PR's you are probably going to set! :o)

HUGS again... any kind of blues do hurt, but this too shall pass.

Nikee Pomper said...

Planning upcoming races should help abit with the blues, you will have something to look forward to. IMCA is going to be awesome next year!

Megan said...

Gasp! I have that dream, only it's usually when I am awake - it's like the marathon is stuck in my mind forever.

Mine hit Monday night, right after the race - but I think it was because my entire family flew home that day and left me behind. I am glad to hear you have a full schedule ahead of you - sounds like you are keeping busy!

IronMatron said...

Feel better soon! (Easy for me to say.) Soon you'll be racing all of those fun sprint and olympics. They are just around the corner! And IM Canada will be so much fun to watch--and then do!