A month in recovery, now what?!

The common question this past month is, “how is your recovery going?”  Would you be surprised if I said I wasn’t sore or hungry?!!  I was!!  My recovery went a little something like this…a battle between my body and my mind and ANY types of food was not very appealing to my appetite – especially pasta!  Who would have an appetite for pasta or carbs after engulfing in it for a week?  I’d be hungry for a few minutes then when I got close to food, my stomach either denied the hunger signals sent from my brain or sent false alarm hunger signals to my brain.  Confusing I know.

The first part of recovery was spent catching up on hundreds of messages via phone, email, cards, Facebook, and couple of surprises!  I had NO idea that I had this much support on and off the course!!  I couldn’t believe what I was hearing from my family of all the people that were tracking me!  To those of you that were a part of my day…I don’t know how I can THANK YOU enough!  I’m not a very affectionate person, but gosh, I want to hug EVERYONE!

I was still on a high for a few days post Ironman.  Possibly because my mind and body didn’t know what to do with NOT training!  I suppose after over 340 hours of training during the course of 9-months, my body was facing withdrawals.  If you can’t comprehend 340 hours, that’s equivalent to a little over 8-weeks of working as a full time employee!  Over the course of training, I swam 105 miles, that’s 2 miles shy of what Diana Nyad swam from Cuba to the Florida keys in 53 hours!  About 2,140 miles were spent on the road (without a flat tire – hence why I find it to be such a fluke or maybe God was simply protecting me from something when my tire blew at mile 92).  That’s a little under the total miles of riding the 23-day period of Tour de France!  My feet endured a little over 605 miles of training which would get me from St. Louis to see my in-laws on the gulf coast!  That would take months!  Now, it’s easier to comprehend training and the 140.6-mile journey.

Recovery began the minute I crossed the finish line.  I anticipated eating a lot throughout the night even though I knew I would finish around 10p or after.  My husband ordered pretty much a buffet of food for all of us to enjoy after I crossed the finish line and the only thing I could eat…was celery sticks!  He said that wasn’t going to help my recovery because I was burning more calories eating them!  

I did manage to sleep well according to my “sleep cycle” app for the iPhone, but not sleep in.  Even though I went to bed at 1:30a after crossing the finish (note, I had been up since 3:50a the morning before!) I still got up at 7.  Plus, I was anxious to get my finisher’s jacket!  I was almost scared to step both of my feet on the ground when attempting to get out of bed.   My feet were a little stiff and my right knee seemed somewhat sore.  I thought, “wow, that’s it…but what will the 2nd day be like…crap, I’m working!”  After walking around downtown Louisville, my legs loosened up and I was good to go.  We had a club breakfast and the battle between my brain and stomach continued.  Bacon sandwiched in French Toast sounded incredible but apparently it wasn’t appealing enough for me to eat the entire thing.   To aid in the physiological aspects of recovery, I wore compression socks especially on the 4-hour road trip home to keep my blood flowing and swelling down.   I felt nauseated and skipped lunch but later became super hungry for dinner.   I ordered a hamburger and fries at Buffalo Wild Wings and what do you know…I finally understood the signals between my brain and stomach.  They were screaming “protein” and that made them happy! 

Day two of recovery, where the heck is my appetite?!!  I was back to work at 7, on my feet all day treating patients then met with my husband and possibly our future builder for our dream home right after work.  We went on a dinner date to discuss future plans and neither of us could eat all our dinner.  I wasn’t expecting my appetite to still be off track!  Other than some swelling in my right knee, I felt pretty good and still couldn't comprehend that my body just endured 140.6 miles.  It surely doesn’t feel like it!  Then I got to thinking, I could and would want do this again! So my friends were right, 48 hours later, I had a desire to face 140.6 miles again (not soon, but in the future).

Day three of recovery, I was still somewhat running on adrenaline but I could feel my tank running low.  I managed to make it through grocery shopping on my way home from work (my husband knows how much I HATE grocery shopping).  I gathered some ingredients for stuffed bell peppers for dinner.  After making dinner, my husband and I were no longer hungry…all we could eat was a scoop of mash potatoes and we couldn’t even eat a whole stuffed pepper together!  You may wonder, “why is your husband facing the consequences?”  He actually got sick the day of the Ironman with sore throat and upper respiratory infection! Yuck, but what a trooper!!  Plus, he and my family got quite a workout…his Fitbit recorded that he walked 11 miles that day!!

Day 4 of recovery, my tank was running on empty!  My legs have felt okay all week but my energy was plummeting.  When I got home from work that day, I made my usual recovery Epsom salt bath.  I tried to take a nap that maybe lasted 15 minutes.   Eating was still a battle but we split the left over bell pepper for dinner and actually ate the entire thing this time. 

Day 5 of recovery, I was SO glad it was Friday!! I haven’t been able to crash early enough each night this week to sleep long.  I got up every morning at 5 to get ready for work.  One of my patients caught me in a daze and asked if I needed a nap…ha!  I said, no, but one thing I’m SO excited about is sleeping in this weekend!! I haven’t slept in for nearly 9 months!

Day 6 of recovery, I got to sleep in up to 7:30!!  I know it doesn’t sound that exciting but that’s nearly 2 hours later than the usual weekday.  My husband wasn’t too thrilled that I was up early because he likes to cook me breakfast in bed on Saturdays we are home (has been keep up with this tradition since the day we married).  I managed to wait long enough for that breakfast.

Day 7 of recovery, Bluestreak and I were back on the road!!! This time with my husband and Marin!  It was a double date!  It was Labor Day weekend and we were so excited to bike together with my tri club.  The Trailnet group in St. Louis, organizes monthly supported rides throughout the city at various distances for cyclists and families.  I thought it was a great opportunity for my husband and I to casually bike 20 miles on moderate hilly roads.  Let’s say, they weren’t so moderate to my husband and it got HOT!! Like sizzling HOT!  I got a little worried myself in the heat and just knew my husband may not feel so well (just because his body hasn’t been working out in the heat).  After some Hammer Gel, he got his 2nd wind at the halfway point.  Then we camped out with the club to watch the pro cyclists. 

Week 2 of recovery, my appetite was gradually returning and my body was still trying to play catch up.  My knees ached more this week mainly from being on my feet everyday for 8 hours at work.  My husband reminded me that my legs are not really recovering just yet.  I remember my friend talking about Ironman recovery so I investigated just to see how long I really needed to take off after the Ironman.  Looks like I will need 4-6 weeks of rest and it’s okay to continue swimming and activities other than biking or running (oops).  It’s hard for this girl to sit still but I’m managing quite well considering I would like to come back stronger than ever next year…not for another Ironman, but racing in general.

Week 3 of recovery, I was still off.  However, I managed to workout with my husband and performed 30 minutes of cardio on the Elliptical along with some strengthening while he got in his run.  My muscles were screaming at me during my squats.  Needles to say, this workout left me sore 2 days later (yes, more sore than I felt after the Ironman!!).  I’m beginning to notice feeling somewhat “unhealthy” or “unfit” and starting to feel like I need to quickly get back into the workout routine.  I’m even wondering if my muscle has already dissolved into some flab.  Muscle has memory, so I’m anxious to get it back into the groove for 2014 season!!

Week 4 of recovery, “okay, that’s it…time to run!” With my husband training for his first 10k, I ran next to him for 4 miles and he was keeping up a pretty good pace…ahead of me!!  Flashbacks of my run in the Ironman were playing in my head.  I couldn’t really stay focused and when we started running, I was thinking this is going to be a long run!  Remember when I felt like the last 3 miles were the longest of my life…that feeling was there 4 weeks later on my first run! At the end of my 4 week recovery, I was running 6 miles again…my mental state and body thanked me!

What exactly is on the agenda for 2014?!  

1.  One goal I have for next year already is to qualify for Nationals on the Olympic course.  Prior to Ironman Louisville, I registered for a popular race in Chicago for next June.  I have an itch to become a little more competitive with the Olympic triathlons.  I qualified this past year, but the race was the weekend after Ironman Louisville.  I’m pretty sure my body would have hated me! 

2.  After I surprised myself on the swim, I would love to challenge my swim even more.  So there’s a hint of the next endurance challenge.  Maybe this time, I will actually get a coach and attend some Master’s swim courses.

3.  Because I walked the last 10 miles of the marathon, I want to run a marathon just to prove myself that I can run it even though I said I’d never want to run a marathon.  I’ve now learned my lesson –  “never say never!”  However, I have to keep my knee strong in order to tolerate 26.2 miles…so we’ll see what race I feel up to for my first marathon.

4.  Have I inspired my own family?!  My husband is already signed up for his first race, a 10k!  Unfortunately, he has an injury that will put him on hold.  And, my sibs who don’t run, have all agreed to register for a race together.  In fact, I was surprise to hear this idea from my little sis.  So stay tuned to see this family cross the finish line together in 2014!!

5.  Last but not, least…I still need to work on completing 13 half marathons in 13 states.  Looks like 2014 will be a year of destination races.

It’s amazing how accomplishing the 140.6-mile journey can change your attitude, your confidence and inner strength or even inspire others.  Even accomplishing training goals such as the first 80-mile rides or 112-mile rides, the first 15-mile runs and so on create the same effect.  Warning, the feeling of finishing your goals, DOES leave you with increased motivation to do ANYTHING!  Well, maybe not like Diana Nyad who swam over 100 miles from Cuba to Florida-anything, but when you accomplish something that seems impossible or INCREDIBLE…you walk away feeling like a stronger person from the inside-out!  You walk away feeling like you’re on top of the world and NOTHING will interfere with your goals in life even if it takes more than 1 attempt.  NEVER give up and you walk away feeling like a Champion!

Quote of the day:  The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential…these are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence.   
~ Confucius

Bible verse of the day:  “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.”  ~ Proverbs 16:3


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