Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Ironman Week - Day 3

Facing my fears.

While I didn't fall asleep as early as I would've wanted to last night, I did sleep like a rock and didn't wake up before my alarm which had been a theme this week.  The alarm went off at 5:55am and I snoozed it somewhere around 3 or 4 times.  Ah.  Normality, I've missed you.

Even though, I've felt a little more normal this morning, the theme for the day has been fear.  I have been pretty confident about my fitness and what I will accomplish on Sunday.  But there are definitely a few things that have been haunting me this morning.  Not so much the race itself but what happens after: post-race blues.

Finishing ANY race gets you high.  You want more, it's addicting.  I grew up a runner and ran lots of little races since I was in elementary school, but it was always track events (although I focused on distance).  I ran the 1200 and 1500's when I did track.  Eventually upgraded to 5000m in middle school.  One day, I signed up for a 5k and that's no track... there's an actual "stage-like" finish line.  It's not JUST a line.  There's an arch, balloons, LOTS of people, they give you a medal regardless.  It's awesome.  I wanted more.  I signed up for my second 5k, then a 10k and a half marathon.  When I moved to Boulder, my first race was the BolderBoulder 10K.  Well, I had goosebumps all along.  I swear, it's hard to stop.  It's hard to express the feelings you feel before, during and after the run.

My first 10K ever... in Mexico City.

I then signed up for half marathons, and why not, a marathon.  My first marathon was hard... not a lot of crowds, not too much support, it was hot and dry. It was painful, but the finish line tasted better than ever before.  I signed up for a second and third... Got to the point where that wasn't enough.  I signed up for my first ultra-marathon, a 55k (or 34 miler). Decided I needed a little more training for that.  Went back to marathons.  Then triathlons (let's shake it up a bit).  Did a couple short ones, but since I enjoyed the long-distance running events, figured I'd sign up for the long events.  I did a half Ironman my first year as a triathlete.  I was hooked... remember how crossing the finish line of a marathon was awesome, well, that was an understatement.  A half Ironman is a powerful experience and well, mix it with a little bit of alcohol and you have a full distance Ironman on your schedule. 

After finishing my first full Marathon ever: Boulder Marathon 2009

At the Mile High Music Festival in 2010... Do I look like I should be signing up for an Ironman? Well, I did a few minutes after this picture was taken. (Yeah, we had been drinking all day).  

Talk about a runner's (swimmer's and cyclist's) high.  You feel on top of the world since the moment you hear your name followed by the words: "You are an Ironman." Think about it.. say it, with your name: "Gaby, you ARE an Ironman". Emphazise some of the words... Also, imagine having hundreds of people cheering you on... just you!  They all want to high five you too!  They all get excited for you, because you are... well... AN IRONMAN.  WHO DOES THAT??!!??  

I AM an Ironman

You ARE on top of the world... Not just that night, not just the next day, but for several weeks. YOU ARE AN IRONMAN. Life is good. After two or three weeks though, the excitement wears off and you are back to your normal self.  Your body gets back to normal and is recovered.  But what's next?  Usually, nothing.  So?  Now what?  Seriously, what activity can top the finish line of an Ironman.  It hit me... the 6 months before Ironman, I had been playing by the rules. Eating healthy, going to bed early, following a plan.  Now what?  I found myself lost. Not knowing what to do.  I was grumpy since I didn't know what to do with myself.  I wasn't motivated... I didn't want to do much, since, well... I got nothing else to do. I got depressed, but found myself signing up for Ironman again a short 2 weeks after the finish or my first Ironman.  I had something to look forward to.  But I guess I wouldn't start training for another 6 months.  

It took me two or three months to be myself again.  I was not doing so well at work (mostly cause I wasn't motivated) and mostly I felt like my life was falling apart.  I did end up signing up for the Denver Marathon and had a good race, but not as good as I could've done, mostly because I signed up to have something to do, but was not really motivated to do anything.  I'm telling you, these post-race blues are serious stuff.  No joke.

I have already made a decision of not signing up for an Ironman race in 2013.  Why?  Well, Ironman racing takes a toll on the body and well, in your social life and even your relationships.  It's so much commitment.  And well, I owe my success to my loving man-friend.  Not once has he mentioned my selfishness while I train.  It's a lot of "me" time. So now, I owe him a year where he gets to set a big goal and I get to support him.  It's only fair.  But this scares me.  What now??  Last year's depression wasn't something I'd like to experience again, so I've tried to do some damage control before it even happens.

The man and I are planning a big trip for next summer.  We've talked about Alaska or even Europe.  I've already committed to some late-season marathons which I'm actually REALLY looking forward to running, but mostly, I want to give ultra-marathons another shot next year.  I turn 30 next year and running a 30 miler (or 50k) would be pretty exciting.

Because these many medals is just not enough...


  1. Love the headband action you got going on at the Mile High Music Fest!! ;-)

    1. LOL.. I know, classy. And my dress is not even quite in place.

  2. "So? Now what? Seriously, what activity can top the finish line of an Ironman. " ---->this is what I'm feeling now!