Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Calling all iron-critters

Ok, so this post is mostly wanting to know about your Ironman experience, or more specifically, the post-ironman experience. In this post I mean Ironman the race distance, not any dealings with the corporation you may have had. For the non-Iron readers, you're welcome to read along, you might get some insight into obsessed people.

We're talking about a 3.8 K swim in open water, then ride your bicycle 180 K, then run 42.2 K all within 17 hours. I did mine in 2010, in Penticton. You can read about it here if you like. Some of my readers are new and have never heard of such a thing. They are probably backing away slowly, wide-eyed, wondering how they came to be reading the blog of a madman.  Lots of people I've talked to cannot imagine doing such a thing, and that's the first hurdle.

So you've done an Ironman. Any of them. The Challenge races, and the non-Ironman branded ones count. It's the distance, not the brand that counts. When did you do it/them?

I want to know about your life since then. Some people get in the groove and do several, even many of them. Others, like me, it's one and done. You?

Some get through and do a cartwheel at the finish line (she knows who she is), or they do a happy dance of joy (she also knows who she is). Some fall down in a heap like someone cut the strings. Some collect their medal with a big grin, then go eat their face off and put their feet up (me). Some give it everything they have and just make the deadline, others cruise along but are cranky they didn't break into single digit hours.

The full on glow is still there the next bunch of days, but you're getting used to having a life again. Your spouse and kids are getting used to having you around again. The glow happens when you think about it, or you wear some finisher gear. Or maybe it was a brutal experience you'd rather not recall. Or maybe you've done it so often they run together in your mind.

Life goes on. This is what I really want to know. Are you still active? What are you doing? Same three sports at shorter distances? Injured and given up? Burned out and moved on to other sports? If so, what and why? Are you still proud of doing it? Or would you still be married if you hadn't done Ironman (you think)? Did you get a tattoo or not? What is it? Do you still love it, or regret it? If you've sold your gear, was there a pang of regret, or was it good riddance to clutter you no longer needed? You probably made friends during the training, are you still friends or buddies with them now?

Do you ever wear the finisher gear, or did you wear it out and retire it? Do you still have the medal? Is it framed and hung with pride, or clumped in with all the other medals, or stuffed in a drawer somewhere? Did you want to do another one, but life (kids/job/injuries/money) prevented it, and now you're "too old"? Or maybe you've just started training to do another one now that those issues have been addressed. What difference did it make in your life?

There's a joke most Iron-critters have heard. It goes like this. You walk into a room filled with fit looking people. How do you know which have done an Ironman? Answer. You don't have to, they'll tell you. (bada-bump!) Do you find a way to tell people you've done it? Or only if they bring it up?

Really, I'm curious, tell me whatever you'd like about your post ironman life. Feel free to comment below, or add it to the facebook post. Or email me keith at nucleus dot com and tell me if you want your comment private or I can post it in the blog comments.

I'll even go first. IMC 2010, one of the last in Penticton. One and done, though Linda surprised me by saying it was a better experience than she expected, and a do again was a possible thing. I'm still active swim bike run, though this last summer was a bit of a struggle. I haven't done many races, but then I've never really thought of myself as a racer. They aren't that much fun. I am seriously thinking about doing an Oly distance next summer, but getting consistent training in needs to happen first. I'm done with doing races just to finish, I'd like to be finishing mid pack or so for my age group.

I'm so glad I did it! I remember the glow, and still feel the joy of crossing the finish line. You'll note that photo is still at the top of this blog. The most important part is that it got me active, with all the health benefits that go with it.

I've still got finisher gear, and the light jacket is my go-to cool weather jacket. There was a hoodie that was perfect for yoga savasana and cool summer evenings, but another hoodie I've hardly worn. The actual finisher T shirt is nice cotton but a blah beige, I wear it periodically. The bike shirt I've hardly ever worn even though it fits well. There's a velour sweatshirt thing that scratches my neck so I don't wear it much. It collects cat fur like you would not believe. All the active wear is hung up in the basement and I rotate through it. Some of the finisher shirts are beginning to look a little worse for wear because they've been worn a lot. The one I like the most is from one of my first races, the Chinook Half. It's a lovely light white material, with reflective threads in the weave, and fits loosely. Well, it was white, it's sort of going gray in places.

All the medals are hung in a bunch beside the computer, the IMC one at the front where I can see it. I even kept the wrist band.

Some of the habits carried over into the rest of my life, especially the organization and planning that are needed. Thinking through what's going to be needed in what order. Thinking about what could go wrong, what needs to be done to mitigate the risks, or cope with it in the event of. Probably the most important habit was to just do it. Get up and get it done. Don't obsess about the weather, just prepare for what might happen and deal with getting wet. So many workouts started feeling clunky and ended up being good. Get the most important thing of the day done early, then it doesn't matter what happens. So much paid work has happened because I dived in to get it done, then moved to the next thing.

I thought about the tattoo, and doodled what I'd get, but decided not to. A chat while giving blood with a Red Cross nurse about the risks of it made up my mind.

I'm still buddies to one degree or another with some people I got to know during the training. Some I only met virtually through blogging for social media. Others I know in person even though they might live far away, or have moved away. I see my coach, the famous Katie fairly often at the pool and we'll chat if we're water running. Or if my swim is in the groove I'll try to keep up. That doesn't usually last long. We go for coffee every now and then. I Facetime with Susi and do Facebook chats/comments with some other people that don't live nearby. I see a few regulars at the pool enough to say good morning and ask how they're doing. A few people drifted into my triathlon life because of Michelle's training, and those people likely will drift out of it again, but you never know. But most of the people I knew have moved on and are not likely to ever see this blog.

Even though I'm an adult onset runner, I've come to love going for a run. It relaxes me, I think about stuff in my life. Sometimes the blogs write themselves while I'm running, or I'll figure out a piece of the novels I'm working on, or I think of photo projects. I'm a bit more focused on swim technique just now, but there's lots of times when I let my body swim, and my mind would be busy thinking of something else. Yes, I knew exactly how far I'd swum, and how fast to the second, but keeping track of that is easy with my trademarked method.

What brought this up, you ask? My BRBE Michelle just completed her Ironman and had a fabulous day out there. I hope it was everything she dreamed it would be. She might or might not blog about it. I'm curious about where she goes from here, and that's what got me started thinking about where I went, and wondering where all you went after your race.

Please do comment, even if it's just that you never think about it.


  1. After 18 iron-distance races, I feel burned out. I LOVED triathlon with a fierce passion but earlier this year my body was so fatigued and along with it, went my passion. For the first time I was having to grit my teeth and white-knuckle and FORCE myself to get out the door. There was even a day where I dragged myself to the pool only to flip a ewey and come back home. The end was nigh.

    I have been doing sporadic activity - only swam a couple of times, running hardly at all, but cycling on my trainer. I will be attending a tri camp in Feb and will be cycling, so I am getting in shape for that.

    I love what triathlon has taught me, but I don't know if I'll ever do another one - the spark and interest just went poof. Gone. :) :)

  2. I have done 7 iron distance races with kona being the last. I only started as a way to force myself to conquer my fear of learning how to swim.
    I enjoyed the social aspect of triathlon and am a big proponent of social recovery being as important as the actually training!
    I trained diligently for my 1st 2 races and then went to the other extreme seeing how little one can train and still complete the race within the time alotted and have an incredibly fun day. The answer is next to know training is required if you have previous experience and know how to manage each portion of the day.
    I have not competed since 2013 in any tri races. I have no desire to sit on a bike very little to drive to a pool and hardly any to even strap on my runners and ruuning was my passion.
    I have switched focus to partaking in bootcamps. 1 hour 3x a week. My cardio is trying to keep up to my almost 2 year old son. I am not saying i will never put on a tri outfit again but do not see it happening anytime soon.

  3. From Terry
    Terry Toffelmire Not an IM, but in some ways long ultra's are similar. I'm definitely not done them, and I do think that it changes your lifestyle when you jump into long endurance events. It's addicting I guess, hopefully for the good. It definitely teaches you to be efficient, gotta get up early, get shit done, skip TV and stuff, make training your social life, especially when you've got a family (and kids). I think one day I'll do an IM also... but I also think that the time juggling is harder with multi sport, I spent a lot of time cycling this year, and getting in long rides and runs on the weekend is hard to balance w/ family, and w/ a hubby who also runs. So maybe when my kids are older and tired of me...

  4. From Missy
    Missy Page Hulbert Ironman was the best, IMFL 2008. I loved it. I even loved training with my friends at all hours of the day and nite, so many crazy times and funny stories. I trained about 15-20 hours a week and it was a part time job in addition to my regular job. After ironman, I did the American Triple T and that was a total riot. It was nice to do a long distance event/stage race as part of a team over three days. You really got to know the other competitors and it was a blast. My last endurance event was in 2010 when I ran the Grand Canyon from Rim to Rim with a group of friends for fun. That actually cured me of any endurance event, maybe ever. A couple times I actually thought I might die, felt like I was cooking from the inside. NOW, I don't train to eat and drink like I used to...I cook and eat to live a healthy life, I ride a bike when it's nice out because I want to and run 10-15 miles a week to exercise my heart. I walk and train dogs and spend time with my family. ...if I was retired or otherwise did not have to work, I would do it again I think. For now, I'm not willing to put that kind of time into it.

  5. Susi de Leeuw I have mixed emotions about IM. The last one I was in was in 2009. I loved all the people I met through triathlon, and had a lot of fun training with those peeps - that was the positive. I managed to finish four, but the last two events were so disappointing and it was hard to let go of that disappointment after all the time spent training. The first race you do to finish, and after that, one hopes to see some improvement and it didn't happen. I thought of trying for one again, with a coach who didn't send cookie cutter workouts I may add, but a few turn of events left me unable to run. That said I find myself back in the gym, getting fit and strong and finding other ways to get exercise and enjoy the outdoors. It was hard to let go of the daily training grind but I think I have better balance in life now then I did then. I have my medals hanging up in my closet. And two finishers posters framed but in a closet as well. I have a finisher photo of my first IM in a frame on my desk. Not to remind me of the event but because I crossed the finish line with an amazing friend who since passed away. It may seem weird but it's not the events I wish to remember but instead all the fun I had leading up to the events. I am so thankful for all the friends I met through triathlon and who, despite our being scattered here and there, I am still in touch with. Did I answer all the questions? Haha


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