7 weeks and 3 days after the ironman

It has been fascinating being able to look back at the last 7.3 weeks and see that the tiredness I had from late nights after the Ironman was actually the fatigue which my body was still trying to recover from  the event. I felt like my body was being eaten away during the day by my super fast metabolism.

The fatigue and fast metabolism remained for at least 5-6 weeks before I started to feel better. Even now I can sense there is a fatigue factor still present in my body. I think my body is adjusting with my metabolism slowing down again.

I spoke to two professional Ironman athletes and they both said would take 8 weeks to fully recover and even then you are still not 100%. They suggested the more Ironman events you do the faster your body recovers.

I have been training in the gym the past 2 weeks and I have been on one cycle ride for 1 hour. I am enjoying the gym and I feel it is right to avoid cycling too much at this stage.

My advice to first time Ironman athletes after the race it to:

1. Recognise that you will get tired and get lots of quality sleep

2. Eat quality food and regularly because your body is still burning up energy fast

3. Drink lots of water (3-4 litres a day)

4. Rest from cardio training for 8 weeks even though your body has a desire to train two days after the event

5. Stretch the body to feel better

I am still recovering now and in another 2-4 weeks I hope I will feel even better.

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Recovery from Ironman and L’etape Du France

It is now three weeks since completing the ironman. On the day I finished the Ironman I needed a “human Crutch” to help me walk around and get back to my hotel. My quadriceps were painful with every step and walking up and down stairs was painful. I caught a train back to our hotel, ordered dinner in the room and went to bed.

In bed my legs were burning and hot and my upper body was cold/ shivering. It led to an unsettled sleep as I was pulling the covers over the top half of my body and trying to keep my legs cool. I had an anti -inflammatory and because there was no ice for an ice bath my coach said have a hot bath. The hot bath was a pleasure to sit in and enjoying the moment was amazing.

The next morning, only 9-10 hours later, I was walking much easier without help but stairs were still a struggle. I ate so much food and that morning and continued to eat all day in large quantities. Walking around Zurich I could see other ironman athletes limping and one guy was on crutches.

It took another 2 days gradually lessening pain before I was comfortable to walk up and down stairs.  I continued to eat any food I could get hold off and I found my metabolism was remained very high, even now 3 weeks later.

Within 1.5 weeks of finishing the ironman my body felt like it wanted to train again. My mind was not fussed about training but my body wanted to keep training. It wanted to ride, swim and run and yet I knew it needed to rest. i spoke to my coach and he said your body will need 4 weeks of rest to recover and not to push myself. I have not training now for 3 weeks.

I got my bike wheels back this week and I will be putting them on the bike tomorrow. I am looking forward to getting on the bike and working my legs. After doing the ironman I think training in the gym alone would no interest me. I feel I want another challenge to give me focus for my training.

I all looking at cycling as a sport I would like to improve. I do not want to do another ironman and my swimming and running are not as enjoyable as cycling. My coach said I could make a good cyclist so I am now looking at the Le’tape du France as a challenge for next year.

I will focus on treating ironman athletes as a physio and become a specialist in this sport. I will do shorter triathons as I think this is a sport where injuries occur frequently and the athletes need immediate care and results to achieve their goals.

I will do the Le’tape du France 2011 and learn about the cycling mechanics and how to help people improve in this sport. I can learn the injuries that can happen and the biomechanics of the sport.

Today will be my first training session. I plan to run and swim a short distance and relax the rest of the day.

Race Day and recovery

It is now three days after the ironman. It is nice to be able to sit here and reflect on a perfect day of racing on the 25 July 2010 and I do not have to train and I can eat whatever I want.

The two days before the race had their dramas. I was very relaxed but I had many small tasks to do to prepare for the race and this included training with my coach. There was a considerable amount of travelling to get from my accommodation to the race venue.  Travelling alone can be tiring and I really needed to rest and avoid expending unnecessary energy.

Over the two days it rained heavily and was cold and Fran, my coach, said no training if it continued like this. He wanted to get in a light run at the least and this could be done the day before the race.  The race organisers were confident the weather would be fine and warm for the day. Locals tell me predicting the weather pattern is easier on the Continent than in London.

I tried to change a tire when I arrived into Zurich and I could not get it back on because it was new and very tight around the rim of the wheel. I broke a lever and punctured an inner tube trying to get it back on. I decided I would take it into the bike mechanic on the race site, ironman city. I was also told by the race organisers that I should have easier gearing than I had on my bike so I decided to also buy a new rear cassette for the wheel, 150 swiss francs. I needed a new watch because the jeweller did not seal my current watch properly when replacing the battery and it flooded and malfunctioned. The new watch cost £150 but I needed to find a timex outlet and buy it. I also had to buy air canisters and a gillet for cold weather.

There is a risk of malfunction in racing when putting anything new on the bike the day before the race. I had mechanical issues with changing of the gears once the new rear cassette was put on the bike. The bike mechanic stripped out the new gear cable I had put on and adjusted the section closer to the gear shifter. I went for a test ride and it was not perfect. This left a seed of doubt in my mind for race day and was not good on the mental energy and positivity.

At 4.30pm on the 24 July 2010, the day before the race, I took my bike into transition. I prepared my plastic box of shoes, clothing, chaffing cream etc and covered the bike with a cover for the night. It was the finality of leaving my bike in transition that started me thinking more about the race. I walked around transition and practiced seeing my bike from the exit from the swim and bike legs so I could find my bike again quickly. All was ready and now time to relax for race day.

We went for pasta for dinner and then I was in bed by 10pm. I listened to my hour of visualisation from my mental trainer, Chris Janzen, before falling to sleep 30 minutes later. I had listened to the same personalised recording each night and morning for the two days prior to race day. My entire race day was visualised in my head before it even started.

The visualisation helped me  on race day as I was excited and calm. I could not wait to get started and enjoy the atmosphere, being in the race and finishing. I woke up at 4am, ate breakfast and headed to the race start.

My support crew of 8 friends and my coach wore distinctive Physical Edge clothing and had made placards to get my attention when racing. They were with me at the start of the swim and it was relaxing to know they were around me. Having friends close by really made the day special.

I got into my wetsuit to pumping dance music and an electric atmosphere. The weather was warm and the skies were clear. The water temperature was 22.8 degrees celcius so wetsuits could be worn.

The swim legs started and 2222 competitors took to the water like ants to food. We headed for the first marker and fought for space. It was horrible in the first 600 meters because I could not see the marker, the lake was murky and I could not get a rhythm with the people swimming around me. I was unsure if I was gong in a straight line and in the right direction and this made me feel uneasy. I decided to draft another swimmer and chose one who was constantly looking for the marker. I felt confident he was heading in the right direction so he was guiding me along the race.

The swimmer I was drafting helped me get into a rhythm and at one stage I was relaxed and swimming easily. I lost him going around the marker as every one converged around the marker. I protected myself from getting kicked in the face and stomach and I kicked to get people off my legs. This happened around each marker so I found new swimmers to draft most times.

My cap started to peel off my head during the race for no reason. Occasionally I stopped to push it back on. Felt like a cone head as it slid back up my head but fortunately my goggles stayed on.

Half way around we had to swim to the back of a small island, get out of the water, run across the island and back in again to continue with the swim. There was a “bottle neck” effect swimming to the back of the island and again another fight for space occurred.  Swimmers were pulling at my legs to pull themselves forward and the extra kicking I did made my hamstrings cramp.

The second leg of the swim was longer than the first. Mentally I new the first leg was hard and I had to focus on getting to the end now as it was so uncomfortable with what was happening. There was so far to go and all I did was focus where I was in the moment. The finish of the swim slowly got closer but at the same time so was fatigue. I could feel my arms had strength in them and that gave me confidence I could make it as long as I kept breathing well.

The final stretch to the island again was long. I sited where I was heading but it just never seemed to get any closer. The last 100 meters could not have come faster. All I wanted to do was get out of the water. I eventually made it to the end and jogged to transition ready for the 180km bike leg. The swim took me 1.17.11.

The first leg of bike was  unknown  as I did not know how big the hills were or how long each section of the course would take me. I started the ride with stomach cramps from the intensity of the swim and then coming straight out and drinking electrolyte and eating a piece of power bar.

Fran said to keep the bike in low gear for the first 15 minutes to get comfortable. I also knew the priority on the bike was to keep my legs fresh for the marathon. After 15 minutes I changed gears into the big cogs and started to hit 30km/hour with a cadence of 90. I kept this up until the hills started and ate food and drank every 20 minutes. My watch alarm was set on timer to alert me every 20minutes to keep me on track with hydration and energy.

The hills started and I was still uncomfortable in the stomach. I pushed the bike through the small hills and slowly my bike legs started to kick in. I felt powerful and strong and was overtaking many riders through the hills. I then started the biggest hill called the beast. This took me about 15 to 20 minutes to climb and took a lot of strength from my legs. Immediately after there was a longer, gradual climb lasting another 20 -30 minutes. At the top of this hill I breathed a sigh of relief that it was over.

These two hills would be repeated in the second leg of the bike so I made a decision to coast down the hills and keep a steady speed on the flats in preparation for the hills again. I stuck to this plan and the first leg of the bike took me  3.08.33 and the second leg took me 3.23.25. The second leg was slower because I was saving my legs for the hills and then the marathon. An exciting end to the first leg was heartbreak hill. The spectators lined the street like the Tour de France as I climbed the steep hill. It was exhilarating to feel the passion of the crowd and be a rider.

I got off the bike feeling good and mentally prepared myself for the marathon. I never had run a marathon before and I was not a great runner. This was going to be mentally and physically tough.

I had a plan to walk through every aid station to drink and eat properly to avoid hitting the  wall in the later stages of the race. The first two laps my legs were tired but remained strong with split times of  1.06.35 and 1.21.03. I wanted to run each of the 4 laps in about 1 hour but in truth just wanted to finish and I did not look at my time once during the race.

The 3rd and 4th laps were harder as my quadriceps started to fatigue.  Mentally I aimed for the next aid station or next turning point in the run to keep me focussed. In these two laps I was tired of eating power bars and instead started eating crisps and had half an apricot. My stomach ached through most of the run because I had power bars/gels, crisps, electrolyte, water, apricot, and bullion in my stomach all at once. It was uncomfortable but I did not feel dehydrated and I did not hit the wall.

The finishing straight was long but exciting. I was cheering myself along knowing I was going to finish the race. I tried to run faster but after 50 meters my legs started to hurt too much so eased up again.

The finishing shoot was on a raised platform with finishes clock above and barriers on each side holding the crowd about 10 metres apart. I raised my arms in the air and ran the last 30 meters screaming at the top of my voice and high fiving the crowd. I jumped across the finish line with a 360 degree turn and stopped running. It was foreign to allow myself to stop running and I could not believe I had crossed the line and could walk.

I felt great and it was the end to a perfect race day. I went straight to eat and had rice and chicken goulash. I had a silver blanket wrapped around me with my finisher medal and towel around my neck.

Throughout the race my supporters cheered the loudest of everyone. They went to three points of the run course and cheered each lap. The day would be less meaningful without them and I would recommend taking as many friends to an event like this as possible. They were tired from 12.55.45 hours of cheering but they enjoyed the day as much as I did.

I sit here now 3 days later. It has been a gradual recovery as I have walked with less pain each day. Today it still hurts to walk up and down stairs but much less. I am physically beat-up and more prone to infections. I am resting in this fantastic London weather and reflecting on the experience with you.

The race was important to me because of the people that helped me along the way and all my family and friends who have supported and encouraged me. I have met passionate professionals who coach in the sport of triathlon.  It is a sport filled with positive energy and “can do” attitude. Finishing the race was amazing and sharing it with everyone around created the meaning.

What do I take from this race? I have learnt if I want to achieve something set it as a target with dates even if I do not know how I can make it fit into my life. Get a coach who has done it before and take that coach to the event so he is focussed on your success. Surround yourself and pay professionals with the skills needed to get to where I want to go e.g. massage therapists, nutritionists, bike mechanics, pilates instructors, personal trainers, swim coaches etc. Be flexible along the way but also do what it takes to get the small steps achieved. If I have the right people around me my success rate is higher, I learn from their mistakes and I get the accumulated support of them all. The more well wishes and prayers you get the better.

Where to from here? I am going to rest and then pick up cycling as a sport. I have potential to be a good rider, it is less painful on the joints, and I can ride with friends.  I will be specializing in treating triathletes injuries and work with a team of professionals to help improve performance.

Horror week of training

Last week was a week of horror. My body was feeling great and I went out for a 2 hour aero position ride around Richmond Park. There was a short shower and as I turned on a round about my bike slid out from under me. I hit the road heavily and could feel immediate pain in my hip. The hoods of my gear changer on the right twisted and as I got up I could feel my body aching.

I got back on my bike and decided that was it for the day of training after one lap of Richmond. I was riding along and could feel my right shoulder  and the  side of my hand ache.

Once at home I realised I had landed and slid directly on my hip. The skin had a deep wound and was bleeding badly. My right shoulder was swollen and it was painful to raise my arm. My hand had hit the road and compressed my wrist bones.

Every muscle on the Right side of my leg tightened over the week. I was not able to train and I was unsure if my body would recover for me to race painfree. Over the week I applied hydrocolloid dressings to keep the wounds moist to heal them the fastest.

5 days after coming of the bike my coach said I had to try a run, bike and swim to see how my body was going. I ran for 1 hour and on my way home I was limping as the muscles in my legs tightened. Old ITB issues were starting to reappear. I went for a bike ride and my right knee was slightly painful with hill climbing. My shoulder felt uncomfortable when swimming 15 minutes but manageable.

In my mind I knew I had to run a marathon and if this pain occurs in my leg I would not be able to run the entire race. It was a real learning curve of the psychology of injuries. I had to trust my coach and believe I would be alright on the day.

I had two sessions with my psychology coach and we put together a plan for race day. I was getting 2 massages before the race and massaging my legs myself. The tightness in my legs was not changing.

I noticed my back tire had worn too far and needed immediate bike fitting for new tires. I was able to locate a shop that would take emergency bike repairs. The bike would not be ready until one day before I left for Zurich.

My timex watch needed a new battery. It was replaced but the first time I put it under water it flooded. The jewellery shop had not sealed the watch properly and I now needed a new watch immediately and probably had to buy it in Zurich.

The stress of the last week was not needed as conserving energy is paramount for the race.

I have now been in Zurich for 1 day. Today I broke a lever to take tires off because the new tires were too tight to get on. I punctured an inner tube when trying to get the tire on and in the race briefing I was told I needed to get a better rear cassette on my bike to climb the hills.

I was told my massage therapist, also a dancer, that a bad rehearsal means a great performance. Well I hope it does and it could not get worse.

In the rain in Zurich I found a repair tent and had all the new equipment bought for the bike. The rear cassette alone was 150 swiss francs. It was a price I have to pay to make my ride better on race day.

Tomorrow I have to test the bike, swim and run. Then it is race day. Despite the last added stress I am enjoying the entire experience and can not wait to start. I think it will hit me when I start the swim. I cannot believe I am doing and Ironman in 1 days time.

Last two weeks training plan before Ironman

Just two weeks to go. This is taper time, we aren’t improving fitness here but just maintaining what we have gained. All the work outs will be set as race pace unless I state otherwise. Healthy meals, carbo loading and hydration are first priority now.

Mon 12 july  off

Tues 13 july bike ride as 15-20mins easy spin then 2 laps to Richmond park in your aerobars at your race pace (rp), finish with at 30min run 1-2k/h faster than your rp (for example if you aim to run at 11k/h try 12 or 13k/h)

Wed 14 july  wetsuit swim practice as 3x200m accelerations, faster than rp. Keep a faster speed for the 160-180m approx. and then back off to rp (1min) The meaning of this session is to practice the race start as you will need to try to swim faster to find open water.

Thurs 15 july  1h rp run

Frid 16 july Kingston hill repeats, ride one easy lap as wu then 4 climbs recovering on the downhill.

Sat 17 july  off

Sun 18 july  2h bike ride as 30min easy/1h race pace in aerobars/30min easy

Mon 19 july  30min easy run, visualize while running.
Pool swim as 200m wu/5x100m accelerations faster than rp (30sec)/ 200m cd

Tues 20 july  ride two easy laps in Richmond park, visualize while cycling. Get the bike to Sigma to check up gears and breaks but it will need to be ready for tomorrow, thursday the latest. They should be able to do it in the same day, you may want to do this also after sunday bike ride just in case.

Wed 21 july  time to pack, the best way is to make a list and once you’re packing it tick it, and don’t forget the list!

Thurs 22 july  flight, no training today. We have some work outs fri the 23 and sat the 24. Relax

Zipp wheels on the bike and improved nutrition

This weeks training was the last hard week of training before I start to taper. My coach has put in speed sessions to help with my pace.

A friend has let me use his Zipp wheels on the bike. I have 404 on the front and 808 on the back. I went to see my bike mechanic, Dave, and he replaced my wheels and adjusted the brakes and gears. He said the chain had plenty of life left in it so no need to change it.

The bike is riding much faster with the Zipp wheels on them. The bike feels lighter and it glides faster. Over the 3 hour ride today I was at least 4 km/hr faster and the effort to ride the bike was much less. Instead of a cadence of 90rpm I was at 99-100rpm. Over the 180km bike ride I think this will save me 20-30 minutes in time and more importantly energy. It is like having a shark styled wetsuit in olympic swimming events because the wheels have given me a definite advantage over my normal wheels.

I completed all my speed sessions in the swim and run and my body has been feeling full of energy and relaxed with less tightness throughout my muscles. I have started Mannetech sports nutritional supplements and I have noticed I feel stronger and have good energy through the training and afterwards. I will be taking this to the race to use.

My torn wetsuit has been repaired and I put it on very carefully. I use body glide all over my body, pinch the wetsuit between my finger pads avoiding my nails, and pull it up from the skin side of the wetsuit as much as possible. I will also try using plastic bags over my feet and hands to get the wetsuit on easier as well. My neck is getting rubbed so on race day I will use vaseline and kinesiotape (flexible tape).

This week I have spent 2.5 hours with a sports psychology coach. I wanted to get my mind ready for the race and for the next 2-3 weeks. It was very rewarding and I clarified my pre-race and race strategies. The purpose of my race is to appreciate the opportunity and physical ability to compete in the race, appreciate the support of all my friends and family, enjoy the atmosphere and location (Zurich) and have fun.

To give you an example of a swim strategy…I have three words to rehearse in my mind; space, sight, and breathe. This means get space around me to be comfortable, sight the bouy to know where I am going and get my breathing pattern correct.

On my marathon there are 4 laps and on each lap I will think of a different topic, e.g. love, business, technique and celebrating the finish.

I also have several mantras to get me into states of gratitude, power, and relaxation so I can call on these at anytime in the race.

My psychological coach has asked me how I want to feel at the end of the race and has suggested I feel that way right now and leading up to the race. The primary feeling at the end of the race is gratitude so I am feeling that now and throughout the next 2-3 weeks. This has increased my enjoyment of  training now and I am living in the moment. All the hard work has been done and I am relaxed about the race date coming up soon.

I went to my swim coach and he fine tuned my technique. He then swam with me 1500m and he thinks I will complete the race in about an hour. I think it will be 1.20 hours based on my times in training and also the race conditions I will contend with on race day.

Yesterday I completed my packing list and I have time to check all my equipment and get anything else I need. I want a relaxed mind and body heading into the race and I am very meticulous in my preparation.

2 weeks to go ….25 July..all my friends who are coming to the race are just as excited as I am.

pose of my race is to be

Week 3: Training Plan

Your work outs for the week:
 
Mon 5 july  swim as 200m wu/2x500m as 500 race pace (30) 500 easy/200m
30mins easy run
 
Tues 6 july  outdoor bike ride as kingston hill repeats: 1lap to the park easy then 5 hard climbs recovering on the downhill.
 
Wed 7 july  1h 30min race pace run (keep the form)
 
Thurs 8 july  if you’re very tired from tues and wed take it off, if you’re ok 30mins easy swim
 
Frid 9 july  45mins hard run as 10min wu/ 30min faster than race pace/ 5min cd
 
Sat 10 july  off
 
Sun 11 july 3h bike ride (race pace as much as you can although use first 20-30mins as and easy spin)