by Laurie Quinn

My Ironman day could not have been any better. I was ready. The weather was perfect. All of the buddies I had trained with, my family, close miraculously wonderful friends, all there. I finished.

I had worked hard, never missed a training day. Followed the regimen, even drove around on icy nights to find a clear hill for hill repeats, or a track to do speed workouts alone at night. It didn't bother me to start my 3 hour runs on Wednesdays at 4:30 AM, I thought it was awesome and cool to get so much done before work. I was lucky to have so many great people to do my long rides with. Those Saturdays of 5-hour rides and one-hour runs were a riot of funny bright, strong, positive people who were supportive and who made it all fun. Long ride conversations range from the silly to the sublime, mostly focused on food, especially discussions of where to get the best pancakes (it seems there is a restaurant on a hill in Kona with great banana pancakes, I will try to get there one day).

I was a calorie-burning furnace, constantly on the hunt for food. I learned to sleep more, 7 or more hours every night. Naps were key. Time and discipline were my resources, and I started to eye time spent at red lights and wonder how I could put it to good use!

Ironman training dominates the landscape. I loved the training. It was the most fun I'd ever had.

As race day neared, I knew I was going to have a problem once it was over. I said to some friends, "what goals do you have after this?" "Pancakes" was the usual answer. They are much better adjusted than I. I feared that I was going to have a problem trying to live post race without this huge marvelous "I'm in over my head" goal. But there was not time enough or place where I could talk about it to solve it. So back to the training I went, and let the concern of my post race life sit in the background untouched by a solution.

And I did have a problem. After Lake Placid, I had a problem resting. I missed the company, the community of effort, the endorphins, the fight to get strong, the single mindedness of the thing. I hated recovery. I crashed. And all those little things I did not do because I was training were not interesting enough to fill my time, to make me feel like I was accomplishing something. I still rode a bit, and tried to get my running legs back, they would not come back. I still swam, but not with the same heart. I had a few decent race performances, but as my legs were still shredded, I did not always do well, and really, I learned to deal with that. But emotionally I was so off my game. I felt foolish. How can I be so simple minded that I cannot be happy without this huge goal? It felt wrong to give in, but it was there, that feeling. I had been told about this, after my first marathon. But I did not suffer after the marathon, not at all. But I had it bad after Ironman.

Looking back, the weeks before Ironman were the time for me to start to deal with how to manage myself after Ironman. There are people and a body of knowledge out there to help. My coach gave me a goal to do Nationals, but I needed to have that in my head earlier in the year for it to be effective for me. I am more dependent than most on accomplishments, and as I move along a continuum, I may become less dependent, but that is in my future. I hope it's soon.

I eventually felt better, I'd say in 7 or 8 weeks. Why? Well, primarily because time passed and I got tired of not being happy. But also because I started riding with a buddy suffering from a running injury. Mark and I would head out at 5:30 most weekday mornings in October and had a riot of a time. I swam open water again in the cold but oh so clear water, and I was happy again. And while it was not Ironman training, I was moving again. And laughing hard and often.

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