Race Report – Ironman Lake Placid (Part 5 – The Aftermath)

This ended up being really long, so I’ve broken it into parts. You can find the rest here:

Well, I did it. I completed Ironman Lake Placid. It was a long journey filled with plenty of hours, some pain, stress, doubts, and a lot of hills. It was nearly midnight when I crossed the finish line and collected my finisher’s swag.

The volunteer who caught me was great and directed me to a collection of picnic tables where athletes were recovering. I sat down and she asked me what I needed, then brought me water, some orange slices, and a foil blanket. I felt tired, of course, but not actually all that bad, considering what I had just been through. I gulped some water and chewed on the oranges and let myself just sit and enjoy the lack of movement.

Potties

It didn’t take me long before I was ready to get up and move on. The picnic tables backed to a huge row of Porta-Potties, so it wasn’t the most scenic part of the race, but this recovery area was close to the spectator access. My family was all waiting right there when I came out, and I moved slowly to join them. My muscles still functioned – nothing had cramped or seized up otherwise while I had been sitting.

My family had already taken my bike and transition bags. You get tickets in your athlete packet that allow someone to get in to collect these things for you, and this is something that I’ve always been happy to have available. The last thing that I want to do at the end of a long race is to carry around bags of equipment and keep track of my bike. My special needs bags were still on course, but we left them there. We were able to pick those up the following morning, but if you don’t get them before noon, apparently they dispose of them.

I had to walk a little ways to the car, because there really isn’t much to do after the race when you finish close to the end. In fact, as soon as midnight rolled around, Ironman shuts down the finish area very quickly. Apparently they rolled a truck across the chute and turned all the lights out. When it’s over, they really mean it! I felt terrible for those athletes who may have made it through the swim and the bike course, only to fall short at the very end, to be greeted by darkness in the final stretch.

All of the restaurants were closed at this point, but my family had ordered pizza earlier, and it was waiting back at the B&B. It’s necessary to plan ahead for food unless you’re really fast. However, the first priority for me was a shower. I managed to get through that without falling over, although my legs were having a tough time of it. I ate two pieces of lukewarm pizza, drank more water, and went to bed.

I woke up at least once overnight, and apparently that’s normal for the first night post-race. I didn’t even sleep that late in the morning. I expected to be sore, but I found that my knees and ankles just sort of ached, and I didn’t have that much muscular soreness to start with. I took Advil sporadically and tried to keep moving a little through the day.

Our original plan for Monday was to walk around downtown and do some shopping. However, the rain had returned, so we decided to just lounge around at the B&B, reading and playing board games. Later in the day, the joint pain started to fade and my muscles began to hurt. Everything was sore, *except* my quads, which was actually pretty weird. In all my long training runs or after long climby bike rides, my quads were consistently sore. Put it all together on race day and … quads were fine. I don’t understand why.

Toward evening my back muscles threatened to cramp, so I laid down and went to bed. We traveled home the next day, but I started to feel better. I still moved slowly and didn’t feel like doing anything too strenuous, but could function well enough. I think that the soreness was essentially gone by the third day after the race. My blisters also healed up quickly.

Donuts

I was also hungry and ate a lot. I had eaten carefully planned meals in the weeks leading up to the race, hoping to avoid any unneeded distress, but I no longer cared. On the drive home, I ate most of a half-dozen donuts.

The strange thing about recovery was that my legs felt completely drained with any exertion for about 3 weeks after the race. I went out on a 40-mile ride a week after the race, and my legs just had no strength in them. I would try to push up a hill, and they just couldn’t do it. They weren’t sore at this point, but just wouldn’t respond. I rode in an 80-mile cycling event 3 weeks after the race and finally felt like I was returning to normal by that point.

I wasn’t sure if I would ever do another full distance race prior to competing in this. I didn’t really know for a few weeks afterward either. I certainly don’t plan on another one for 2019, although I’m contemplating a 70.3. I think I would consider another full after that, but I have no specific plans (Maryland, Chattanooga, Barcelona?). Lake Placid was a beautiful place to race, the town was welcoming, and I enjoyed so much of it, but I’m not eager to face those hills again. I would probably race a different course in the future.

My training has substantially diminished by now. I have kept up a degree of cycling, finishing Zwift Academy in September. I’m hoping to swim and run at least once a week, but I’m also back to fencing practices since September.

For next year, I’m already registered for the New Jersey State Triathlon in July (both sprint and Olympic distances). I’ve looked at other events: Eagleman (70.3), Ironman Connecticut 70.3 (formerly Rev 3 Quassy), Jerseyman, Lifetime Athletic Indoor Tris, Ironman Virginia 70.3, or maybe a half-marathon locally. I would like to try to get faster at the shorter distances.

Numbers

That brings me to the end of my Ironman journey for now. I hope this race report is helpful to anyone thinking of trying one, or looking at Lake Placid specifically.

See all my race reports here.

Rest and Recovery in Sports

One aspect of sports training that is often overlooked is the importance of rest and recovery time. In a discipline such as fencing, when the season has stretched so much that an athlete can find a competition at any time of year, it is doubly important for our bodies to find some down time. Rest allows the body to heal and reset. Although it may seem counter-intuitive, studies have shown that performance can increase after a period of mental and physical recovery.

Photo by Esther Simpson, shared under Creative Commons license.

Photo by Esther Simpson, shared under Creative Commons license.

Fencing parents take note – the young athlete is at particular risk of overtraining and overuse injuries. The bones in children and teens have not finished growing and are not as strong as those of adults. The American Academy of Pediatrics has put out a nice set of guidelines on this subject here.

A period of rest can also allow more longstanding injuries to heal. This is one of my main reasons for taking a short break from training at this part of the year. Aging athletes take longer to recover than younger ones also. As I creep closer to the Veteran categories for fencing, this also becomes a consideration for me. For a nice summary of tips to help improve recovery in athletes over 35, look at this article.

There is also a mental aspect to overtraining syndrome. Symptoms can include depression, irritability, headaches, insomnia, and a decrease in enthusiasm for the sport. Some athletes may think that they will feel better if they can just train harder, when it is the opposite approach that is needed.

Go get some rest! Photo by Paul Dunleavy, shared under Creative Commons license.

Go get some rest! Photo by Paul Dunleavy, shared under Creative Commons license.

With Summer Nationals over, there is a natural break in the fencing schedule for me. With no particular exercise in the last 4 days, my leg muscles already feel much better. I plan to take at least two weeks off from fencing practice, but will start some light exercise later today. I plan to limit this to easy cardio, light weight training, and yoga and stretching. Next week I hope to get on my bicycle for some cycling in the warm summer weather. Cross training in sports and activities other than your primary discipline can help with recovery.

What do you do for your recovery? Do you schedule it ahead of time or wait until you feel that you need it?

 

Follow Blog via Email

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 230 other subscribers

%d bloggers like this: