The two days after the Ironman were rough. We were sore, tight and did I say sore?..... but every day it got a little better. Luckily, we were both able to sleep fairly well on the night of the Ironman so that helped a lot with recovery. We also did a lot of walking but the 5 hour drive from Klagenfurt back to Karel's hometown of Znojmo, Czech republic was a little uncomfortable. But thanks to some delicious coffee/cappuccino from McD's (yes - I said it, the only time I'll stop at McD's is in Europe for coffee) and some pastries, we survived.
With Karel having his family (aside from his brother) and many of his childhood friends living in Znojmo, we are lucky to have a place to stay anytime we visit. We stayed two nights with his friend (who has whippet puppies!) before heading off on the road again. We were able to get in some work, spend time with Karel's dad and get in a swim workout at the local outdoor pool (long course meters) on Wednesday (43 minutes/2500 meters). Although my body felt low in energy still and a bit stiff, it felt really good to loosen out in a cold pool. Post Ironman, I was still feeling tired during the day and would often get waves of highs and lows, but able to sleep ok during the night.
Since we knew that Karel's friend Roman was racing Ironman Frankfurt (the one we stayed with on the first night of our arrival after our lost bikes issue), we couldn't pass up the opportunity to spectate, especially with such a packed pro field. Plus, I've never been to Germany so I thought it was a must-do opportunity.
We woke up really early on Thursday to get to Roman's place (outside of Prague) around 9am. We left his place around noon (after stopping for lunch) and I enjoyed my first trip in a camper van! I had some important work on a project to get done on the computer so that kept me busy for the entire 6+ hour drive. We finally arrived in the late evening and it was nice to stretch out the legs for a walk before heading off to bed - in the camper van. Roman had a hotel room booked in the town of Walldorf (about 15 minutes from Frankfurt) so we stayed in the van for one night and then booked a hotel room for the rest of our stay.
Karel enjoyed hanging out with Roman and the other 3 Czech guys racing the Ironman, whereas I enjoyed being in an Ironman atmosphere. The Frankfurt setting was a bit overwhelming with the Ironman being in a downtown setting so Karel and I were happy that we weren't racing (and only spectating) as it was a little stressful getting around. We also enjoyed having an outsider view as spectators of a European Ironman as our only experience is at Ironman Austria as athletes. It was neat to visit the expo and check out different vendors and to feel the Ironman hype. This certainly helped with the typical post-Ironman blues that are felt after a race (especially a race that doesn't go as planned).
It's crazy how bright it stays at night (it doesn't get dark until after 10pm) and how early it gets bright (well before 5am) where we are so it didn't make for easy sleeping, especially since we need to leave the windows open with no AC (no place where we stay in Europe has AC). But once again, we were ok with this since we were not racing. Luckily in Klagenfurt, we were on the top of a mountain which made it really cool - plus the weather was rather cool in the evenings and mornings which was pleasant.
As for workouts, we went for an open water swim (not at the race venue since that was not open for athletes before the race) at a nearby lake to the race venue. The water was very refreshing so we didn't swim with our wetsuits. It was nice to swim with Karel's Czech friends - although we swam a bit more than them since they were just splashing around and getting use to the water. Karel and I swam about 15 minutes. Afterward, we had a delicious lunch with the group before heading back to the hotel. We got some work done before heading out for our first run post Ironman (five days post race) which was a very easy 22 minute/2.5 mile run around the town. Although the legs were a bit tender, it felt good to run as we had been doing so much sitting and walking.
Karel helped the guys out with their bikes as a few had mechanical issues before the race (day before) and afterward, we headed out (with Roman) for a ride. This was our first ride post Ironman (Sat). Roman joined us for the first 45 minutes or so and then Karel and I went back out - exploring around the airport (on the bike path). We rode for about an hour and fifty minutes with the last 20 minutes just playing around on our bikes (exploring).
It was nice to have the rest of the day to ourselves as we got a lot of work done and could get to bed early before our spectating race day. Oh, I almost forgot! We also figured out how to use the train and we took it to the next town to check out the aquatic center. There was no designated place to swim so we just played around (let's call it pool open water swimming) and laid around before walking the 3 miles back home on the bike/walking path. It's so nice to be able to easily get from town to town (by feet or bike or train/bus).
Karel woke up early (4am) to take the guys to the swim start and then he returned back to the hotel. We stayed in the hotel until around 10am before heading downtown to Frankfurt. We decided to "watch" the first part of the race online on Ironman Now (Facebook) and also get in a short run (22 minutes/2.6 miles). It was a long day of spectating but an awesome experience!
Znojmo, Czech Republic
On Monday (8 days post Ironman), we returned home to Karel's hometown and it felt good to finally be stationed in one place. We are calling Znojmo our "home" for a total of 17 days as we booked a place from a friend of a friend in the city. It's nice for us to be able to spread our stuff and have a work space while still being able to spend time with Karel's family. Our typical routine involves waking up (without an alarm but to the sounds of the chirping birds) around 5:30/6am, getting work done for a few hours (while eating breakfast) and then working out. After our morning workout(s), we eat lunch (prepared by Karel's mom at her place) and then head back to our place to get more work done. Then, it's time for Karel to watch the Tour de France (Czech version of course) with his dad at his place. This is some great quality time for Karel to spend with his dad, talking about what they both love - cycling. Before his dad had hip surgery, he raced until he was almost 74! He will be 78 this year. Since Karel's town is small, it's not uncommon for Karel to run into a childhood friend - someone who he hasn't seen in over 20 years! Karel has been doing a great job translating for me and has only forgotten to switch from Czech to English a few times. I always enjoy grocery shopping in Czech - trying new foods and yumming over some old favorites.
As for workouts - to be honest, my body was still recovering all this past week. Sunday (7/15 - two weeks post Ironman) was the first day that I actually felt like I had energy and my body wasn't suffering. While the workouts we have been doing are unstructured (more like exercise), I have continued to go through highs and lows during the workouts - and throughout the day. But Sunday was the first day I finally felt fully recovered. While it's easy to want recovery to be quicker, I need to respect the time that is needed to heal my body. Even though my race didn't go as planned and I didn't meet my expectations of the race I felt I trained for, I still owe it to my body to let it recover. If anything, because I ran on empty for over 20 miles, this is even more of a reason to get my energy back through lots of nourishment, fuel, hydration, sleep and rest. The blood flow has been good as my muscles feel good and the niggles have gone away. We worked out every day last week except Saturday, which was a planned all-day trip to Vienna which included a lot of walking - it was exhausting to sight-see!
As for workouts this past week (days 8-14 post Ironman)....
Monday: 41 minute swim/2400 long course meters swim
Tuesday: 2:17 hour/37 mile bike in the AM. 35 minute/4.6 mile run in the PM
Wednesday: 2:34 hour/42 mile bike
Thursday: 58 min trail run followed by a 47 minute/3000 long course meters swim
Friday: 2:23 hour/42.5 mile bike followed by a 14 min brick run (1.5 mile)
Saturday: Day off/Vienna
Sunday: 38 min swim/2400 meter long course swim followed by a 61 min/7.6 mile run
And lastly - FOOD!
Oh - we have been eating well here. Fresh, local and homemade. And it's all so delicious! I'll save those pics for the next blog. YUM!