So I never really thought about the recovery part of doing a longer distance triathlon. I've read other blogs that talk about loosing the "pop" in one's legs (Whit) after a full ironman but I always that something reserved for those that pushed themselves the full distance. I figured I would skate away from this half IM business as right as rain...not fresh per se...but feeling fine and jump back into training with no problem.
Not so much...my body and mind had/has other ideas entirely. My first run post half IM was intended to be a 4 mile easy run. Now my normal idea of easy is a 9 to 9:30 min/mile pace...but I honestly couldn't push myself lower then a 10 min/mile. Ok, fine...I could tolerate this. It had only been 4 days since the race. My body wants to go slow...ok...I'll deal. Well as I got about 1.5 miles in I started to get a side-ache. I looked at my watch thinking that maybe I had started going too fast...ummmm...hello!! My watch said I was running an 11 min/mile! WTF!??!! Fine!! So I slowed down a little more...ugh...11:30 min/mile...I haven't seen this type of pace since I first started running in 2007...fine...whatever...let's just finish this thing. So I keep going...I glance at my watch more frequently because I'm really tired and I'm running so dang slow! At around 2.5 miles...my body is screaming...I want to stop...I want to walk...my side is aching...so I do. I walk. I stop. I rest. Wow...I haven't had to walk on a run in years...years people. THIS is humbling. My body is telling me exactly what it wants...and I am forced to listen. I ended up only finish 3.85 miles in over 46 minutes...that is an AWFUL pace for me. But I chalk it up to recovery...tired legs...and give thanks for what my body has already accomplished.
The next day I take off in order to give my body the benefit of the doubt. I worked that night and felt ok being up all night. When I got home the next morning I only intended to sleep a few hours since I was fairly sure I was going to get called off. Again, my body had other plans and I slept until 4:30 p.m. Wow...but I did get called off so I decided to do an easy interval run that Bryan had written for me. It was a 20 minute warmup in my hilly neighborhood. I took the 11 min/miles with a grain of salt considering the hills. When my first interval rolled around I started to pick up the pace. I intended to run the intervals at half marathon race pace...about an 8:20 min/mile. Again...I was foiled by my body. I could only run the intervals at a max pace of 9:30 min/mile...this was getting really old. Whatever...I finished out the intervals and ran the rest of the time back to my house. I was exhausted and frustrated...but was getting the idea that I possibly could be in for more then I imagined. I took the next day off again...figuring that maybe my body was screaming for more rest. My nutrition was great, I was on top of my vitamins...and being fairly good about hydration...but I simply could NOT go fast to save my life.
Today was my first swim since the race. It was supposed to be an hour swim. No intervals...just swimming with some drills. I swam my first 500 without really looking at my pace...it felt good to be in the water. The next set I started timing my 100's. Before Barb's I could sustain easily 1:30's per 100. No problem...when really trying I could push into the 1:20 zone. My first 100 was 2:00...ok...fine, I wasn't really trying anyway. So I tried to push a little harder on my next set. 1:58...for real??!! Ok...let's kick it up a notch...1:57...ugh...ok, no holds barred...let's go race pace...1:48!!! Geez! I swam a few more laps and got out...my body was just not on board today. I swam a total of 30 minutes...wow...real rockstar there! Oh well...I swam, right?
Tomorrow is a brick day...hill repeats for an hour followed by a 45 min run with intervals. I no longer have any expectations of my performance other then to do the time. I will not fret over my pace, my legs, my lungs...anything. I will just be grateful for the ability to simply move forward. I am so happy to be able to put one foot in front of the other. My body has done so much for me that I finally realize that I'm going to have to cut it some slack. I will not be in top form for a while longer...and that's ok. My next race is still over a month away...I have plenty of time to find my speed again...and I know I will. As long as I take care of myself, sleep when I need to, stay on top of my nutrition, work out smart...I will be ok. I will get there...eventually. And never again will I underestimate the power of recovery!!!