Post Ironman Kona "long" ride


It's crazy to think that it was just a week ago when we were swimming with fishes in the ocean, and sweating in the lava fields.
This past Saturday, we returned back to our mountains (with arm warmers) and explored a new route on two wheels (on road bikes).
I absolutely LOVE cycling this time of the year - the tree leaves are so pretty!

Our route was familiar to me as I had rode it at the Purple Patch Fitness (PPF) Greenville camp but it was new to Karel. It's crazy to think that we have lived here in Greenville for 2.5 years and have never done the  Green River Cove loop together!!

I am absolutely in love with this 20-mile loop! The beauty, the switchbacks, the descends, the climbing, the flat roads, the river views, the nice pavement, the quite roads, the mountains...it has everything a cyclist should love when riding on two wheels!

Seeing that we will ride this loop at the end of the 80-mile Hincapie Gran Fondo next Saturday (following climbing Skyuka mountain and Howard's gap), it was nice to preview it for an "easy" ride. 

3 hours and 15 minutes, 51 miles and around 4000 feet of climbing......so much fun!
Since Karel is always so kind to let me stay (suffer) on his wheel when he is training, I took some of the pulls to help out his tender, post IM Kona legs.

We hardly ever drive our bikes anywhere as we can ride safely from our doorstep to our favorite country roads, but to eliminate an extra 30+ miles of riding, we drove to Hotel Domestique and started our ride around 9:30am from the hotel (it's also a popular place where many cyclists start their group rides - also the home base for the Purple Patch Fitness Greenville camp). 

Here are some of the pictures I took from our ride.
I absolutely love riding here in Greenville - it's hard for me to not take more pictures! 

Karel is slowly recovering from IM Kona. He is slowly getting back to a normal sleep routine, his appetite is in full force and he has some deep fatigue in his quads. His training (exercise routine) is minimal as he is finally able to fully rest (and reset) his body after a long season of training and racing. 

This recovery is a bit different than the last two Ironman's this summer for a few reasons:
It's the off-season.
No more races until next season.
It's a true break from structured training.
Thinking about the recovery post Ironman, there are many factors that contribute to how quickly an athlete can recover from his/her 140.6 mile effort. Factors like racing intensity, nutrition (daily diet), fueling/hydrating (during the race), prior training/fitness, taper, execution, weather and race course terrain can all dictate how well an athlete can recover before he/she can slowly ease back into more structured training. 

But when your Ironman occurs at the end of the season, it can hit you hard - mentally and physically. Karel and I discussed this topic in great detail during our ride (despite 4000 feet of climbing, we kept the ride pretty conversational.....until Karel made me sprint up the last climb up to Hotel D!). There are a obvious and not-so-obvious strategies of how to transition from Ironman in training to Ironman finisher to finally, an athlete in the off-season.....where you instantly don't feel like an athlete anymore!

Don't over analyze your race. Reflect and then move on.
You are not lazy or out of shape. You are an athlete in his/her off-season.
Pick out the highlight moments in your race experience and keep reminding yourself of those successes.
Determine your weaknesses that were evident in your last race and decide your action plan on how you will continually work on them. 
Start planning your next season of racing.
Don't become sedentary - stay active with non-structured exercise that doesn't reflect triathlon "training".
Don't bash your body or diet/restrict calories. Thank your body and establish smart, realistic and sustainable healthy eating patterns that reflect your current exercise regime.
Plan more fun stuff - go for a hike, kayak/ski, travel, vacation, volunteer.
Select fun low stress, minimal impact events (5K, 10K, bike events, swim events, etc.) to keep yourself motivated.
Recruit your favorite (or new) exercise partners (ex. family or friends) to keep you motivated to work out for health benefits and stress relief.
When you recover, don't train for a running race. Start functional strength training.
Keep yourself "in the sport" - follow blogs, read articles, subscribe to magazines. Don't completely "check out" of the sport.
Give yourself a break - you deserve a break from structured training. Create a new normal and enjoy it. Don't wake up and live each day with guilt and a deep feeling that you should be doing more. There will be a time to train hard, set an alarm for an early wake-up, go to bed early and make sacrifices. Your off-season is not that time. 
Be ok with this temporary, but necessary, time to let your body fully recover and rejuvenate.