One day at the start of a Maths class in year 12, our teacher drew a long line all the way across the length of the whiteboard. She then put a tiny dot on the line, and said that was the significance of our school formal in life. In the whole scheme of things it really wasn’t a big deal, the day would come and go and life would continue as usual… She was clearly wanting us to stop talking dresses, hairstyles, formal partners and get back to work. At the time it didn’t feel like that was true, but in hindsight she was quite right, and I reckon an Ironman draws a lot of similarities to the small dot on the long line that was our school formal.
The build up to an Ironman is huge, once you pick your race months in advance it’s on your mind a lot. Every day involves training, recovering, refuelling and repeating (of course with a bit of work and family stuff in between). You try not to let it consume your whole life but as the hours of training increase and the date draws closer it manages to creep into most aspects of life.
The day then comes and goes. You either have the best day of your life or the worst (ok maybe slight exaggeration there) but when there’s so much build up to one day it can seem that way. Whether you are left on a high with a huge personal best time or the day doesn’t go as planned and you have a less than desirable day out, the aftermath is quite similar.
Everything hurts the first two days, the time passes in a blur as you collect your bike, pack your belongings, re-live all the glory or horror stories and do the Ironman shuffle around town in search of ALL the food. On your search for food, or lining up at the airport you will no doubt come across some of the other 2000 competitors sporting the same shuffle, similar war wounds, matching finisher shirts and shocking tri suit tan lines. The next few days after that is where I think the difference lies…
This year for Ironman Cairns I only took 5 days off work for the race, a couple before and after. I competed on Sunday then flew home Tuesday night, was back at my pharmacy on Wednesday morning at 8am ready for the 5 full days of work ahead. My muscles were ok, my feet were not, and my mind, well thats a whole other post! The last day before I took leave I was bouncing off the walls in excitement, then I was back a few days later, somewhat less enthused and very exhausted.
My colleagues were lovely asking how the ride went (hmm didn’t have the energy to tell them I also swam and ran as well). They were impressed with my pretty finishers medal and gasped at my blisters, but 10 minutes after the start of work that was it, the recap was over and our day went back to normal, serving customers, answering phone calls, dispensing medications and doing all of the normal work things.
It’s not the accolades that I was after, don’t get me wrong, it was more that I didn’t have the chance to unwind, debrief and recharge after months of training and anticipation. It was straight back to the daily grind. Looking back I don’t think there’s much I could have done differently on the race day itself, but for next time will make a few changes to race week prep.
I will arrive at the destination at least 3 days prior to the event, 2 days sounds like enough but when you have to travel (arriving tired), hotel check in, race check in, source food, pack ride/run gear bags, rebuild bikes, take said bikes for a test spin, catch up with friends, drop bikes/gear at transition, buy last minute gear, rest and somehow feel refreshed come race day… You need 3 days! Post race I think you need to plan a couple of fun activities (that don’t require too many muscles) as well as a few days complete R&R.
I love destination races, think there’s nothing better than picking a race in a beautiful location and combining it with a holiday. The months of training can be balanced out with time spent holiday planning (thats half the excitement of a holiday right?) and no matter what happens come race day, there will be something to look forward to afterwards.
So from here on in I am declaring that I’m going back to the destination races, so far I have raced/competed in Indonesia, America, Mexico and Malaysia (and trained at Thanyapura in Thailand). All of them have been memorable and wonderful experiences and I cant wait to expand the list over the coming years.
On that note I have booked my next race-cation as Challenge Vietnam. Set in Nha-Trang it looks to be the most beautiful race… Think golden sandy beaches for a 1.8km swim, scenic coastline 90km bike and 21km seaside run, followed by the worlds highest afterparty on the rooftop with 360 degree views of Vietnam… Now you’re talking my kind of race.
This time I will have a proper holiday afterwards, explore a new country and culture, soak up the sunshine and treat myself… Think cruising around the villages on an Xe Om (motorbike taxi), visiting markets, meeting locals and tasting their beautiful cuisine. Water sports, cable cars, massages and maybe a few cocktails by the pool… ALL. WEEK. LONG. Who’s joining me?
Our races might only have the significance of little dots on a big long line we call life, but when you actually love the life, embrace the process and plan really freakin cool races… Well I guess that’s why we tri! #livingthedream
Sorry if you are now left day dreaming about beach holidays, but until next time remember: Salt water cures everything, sweat, tears or the sea.
PS. For more info on Challenge Vietnam check out the Witsup race-cation preview here and if you register before July 15th 2016, feel free to use this coupon code (CVINF3) to save 20% on registration (that’s saving about 50 bucks.. A few cocktails at the rooftop afterparty… Just saying)
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