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
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.