It has been almost 2 weeks since our return and still I don't feel we are back into regular routine. It probably didn't help that we both returned with chest infections, children needing our attention, work to catch up on, a blocked sewer to add to the chaos, and lots of phone calls and emails to send reliving the race and our China experience.
The elation of grabbing that Kona spot remains (flights, accommodation and car hire have been booked - it may be early days but we have been warned to get in on it as soon as you can as places book out and prices rise!) but Ironman's body is suffering and general enthusiasm for life is rather low.
The days after the race are ones of mixed emotions which obviously depends on wether the race was considered to be successful or not (which all depends on your goals) and most significantly, the body is in shock and in need of desperate re-cooperation
I have come across a few articles about how the race effects the body and mind. One I must mention (after discovering it on our trip to China) is by UK triathlete Mark Klentheaous titled "Beating the Post Race Blues" who has a great website www.ironmate.co.uk (will dedicate a separate blog to this website one day soon).
Mark reminds us that after an Ironman race, which is "one of the most physically and mentally demanding challenges of the sporting world", the body will suffer both physically and psychologically. Even after the soreness in the body subsides there is a lot of internal recovery still happening. I remember reading a while back it takes six weeks for the body to be back in condition and ready to take on the next challenge!
My Ironman returned home with a chest infection, the usual aching limbs and a body that needed readjusting, toenails sore and black and ready to drop off and a bit of chafing (thank goodness it wasn't as bad as our NZ experience!).
What you can't see - I keep having to remind him- is a the massively compromised immune system that can't fight off the infection and a come down from the highs that any major event in your life can bring. It didn't help that he had to jump straight back into a suit and tie and deal with end of quarter sales stresses at work. This is the reality that is easy to forget.
This is the time that you must continue to eat well, fill up with vitamins and herbal supplements to boost the body back to health - and rest as much as possible!
The rest part is not easy for someone who has been training so hard for so long. They can't sit still. Exercise is part of daily life. A stress relief. A time of oneness to reflect or time of togetherness with mates. It was also the means to a long time goal that is now no longer. It is not easily given up even when the body tells you to take time out.
It's now that I realise I have an important role to play. To remind him to take it easy, keep exercising but easy and short sessions, fill him up with good food, spend more time with the kids and around the house, discuss the race (the outcome, the highs and the lows), set new goals, and make plans for how we manage the next Ironman challenge.