Kauai Recuperation

KauaiGetting my first week of complete rest following the race by chilling out on Kauai one of the most Northern of the Hawaiian Islands. This is an amazing island – being the oldest the elements have had a chance to carve the shield volcano into amazing, ridges, mountains, cliffs and canyons. Nature has had time to densely vegetate the island. The combination gives gorgeous beaches with a backdrop of jungle, mountains, jaw dropping ridges and awe inspiring sea cliffs. Today we relaxed at the most amazing beach at the end of the road before the Na Pali coast. I played in the water with my two nephews and I felt like I was recuperating. We’ve landed on our feet here with a lovely apartment. The photo above was taken from out little patio area at about 7am this morning !

As seems to always be the case with me following Kona I’ve been making ambitious pacts with myself about how dedicated I will be for next year ! An earlier post about how to bottle this feeling is so relevant. My enthusiasm to do everything right is massive right now … but how do you maintain this feeling through a long season. I’m sure this is an issue for the vast majority of Ironmen. Like so many things – you initially feel that the problem is unique to you. You feel this despite the fact that any logical thought would conclude it’s incredibly unlikely you are so special that you’re the only one suffering from this. There are things that I struggle with and over the past year I’ve talked about it with other people training for Ironman and most suffer similarly. Perhaps there’s a website idea there … some forum where you can raise your concerns / issues and hopefully find vast numbers of fellow sufferers to provide a sympathetic ear.

I’m getting sidetracked..

I’ve been thinking about what went wrong on race day. Swim – cannot complain about it at all. My aim from last year was to be down at 55 minutes. I’ve put in consistent training and got there. Not only that but I’ve learnt to deal with the swim start well. I have confidence now and the start at Kona was fast and rough but I handled it well. The exciting thing now is I feel I can get faster !! Next year the aim is 53 minutes … though based on this year that would involve breaking clear of the lead age group pack. How exciting would that be!

Biking… this is really hard to assess. This summer I trained vastly differently from before doing the hardest bike sessions I’ve ever done. In Wisconsin I biked strongly throughout but here I was more conservative and still felt pretty tired at the end. Not sure I coped with the conditions as well as others. Certainly the best I’ve felt on the bike (Lanza 07) was off the back of consistent volume based training.

The run … This is the first time I’ve been in the last 5 miles of the bike and felt I just don’t want to run. I can remember thinking … if this was a training session I would knock the brick on the head. That maybe a lesson right there … during this next year I MUST NOT knock Bricks on the head just because of this feeling. This was in stark contrast to Wisconsin where I was desperate to start the run, so desperate that I dashed through T2 nailing the fastest T2 in the process (any excuse to remember that!). Comparing to two years ago when I was running fast without trying. Sub 36 minutes 10k in Olympic and 3:08 marathon at Longest day – the big difference is I was 20lbs lighter! This is something I find myself harping back to and it’s definitely a long term thing I need to address for super fast times BUT it does not explain the performance here compared to Wisconsin – my weight was more or less the same.

Jo sent me an excellent email following the race pointing out the season I’ve had. It started more or less 11 months ago with training for Ironman New Zealand. This was followed fairly promptly by; Mid Wales Ultra, Epic Italy, Ironman Germany, Wensleydale Tri (middle distance), Ironman Wisconsin and then Kona. It’s alot of racing. I’ve always considered myself well able to recover and do tonnes of endurance stuff but perhaps I have to accept I’m getting older and the recovery is not so quick. Certainly following Wisconsin I was hoping to be back into training in 7 – 10 days, it took 3 weeks. This left about 10 days of aerobic training before easing off for the race. Though I felt things were coming together the fact of the matter is I’d done no long running since about 7 weeks before Kona.

Lets face it, once I hit the run here I was plain and simply tired. The season had been long with some balls out efforts and when I came to running this marathon there was simply no juice left. I quickly found myself imagining I was on one of those long fell runs with Alan where my legs were toast and we were still hours from home. In those circumstances  there was no option to quit (unlike in an Ironman) – I imagined I was in the same situation and thus I had no option of quitting, just plod along and get it over as quick as you can. It’s funny thinking back, I remembered reading a race report from someone that said it hurts just the same to run fast or slow. I remembered this on the Queen K and felt I should give it a try. I picked up my pace for about half a mile before concluding it was a lot more uncomfortable running that fast. It made me chuckle (inside). I enjoyed it and was proud to finish my 3rd Ironman World Champs. It helped to know I’d be coming back next year to put things right.

Now I’m being brought back to earth by my two nephews. One is 11 months and just learning to walk. The other nearly 4 and just learnt to swim. Both non stop dynamos. The older was running backwards and forwards along the beach and had a group of Americans cheering him on and saying “looking good”. He would reply “Thankyou”. As he said to me “’I’m an Ironman”. It’s great … he doesn’t care his uncle had a bad race, he doesn’t even realise he just thought it was cool to shout “ Looking strong athletes”. Yes, it’s been another awesome experience.

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