Saturday, November 24, 2012

Post Season.....

Phew....been a while since I've been back from the BIG ISLAND!  It has been a roller coaster of different emotions, so I didn't want to write while I was going through them.  Everyone deals with the off season and "reaching goals" in a different way.  Last year, I took 45 days completely off and gained 12 POUNDS!  Pretty sure it was exclusively beer and burgers. 

This year, I was so pumped from Kona that I wanted to get started again IMMEDIATELY.  I was ready to train the day after Kona.  The excitement from crossing the finish line is pretty much indescribable....see my other posts.  However, there was a tremendous feeling of loss too.

I spent so much time and energy building up to that finish, and now it was over.  I had no plan for the next year.  And I couldn't help but feel sorry for myself (for a little bit).  I forced myself to take two weeks off completely and that was needed physically.  Mentally though, I was struggling with what was next.

After two weeks off, I started to move around a little bit again.  Some short runs....riding my Cross bike out on the trails....little bit of easy swimming.  I was getting over my sad feelings of being home from Kona...but this moved on to another negative feeling....nit picking my race.

I think it is natural to reflect on any race you do and see what you can improve on.  As I was reflecting, I started to feel like I left a little out on the course.  The swim was great...given the swells, I couldn't have swam any faster on that day.  I was totally exposed on the bike.  The lack of power I was feeling all year showed itself in the rawest of forms the last 33 miles back into the headwinds.  And my was a sobering thought to see that I walked 16 aid stations.  Kona finisher, and I have to walk 16 aid stations to cool down?  C'mon....really?

So I felt sorry for myself.  Mostly because I won't have a chance to improve upon that race for a few a minimum...if I'm lucky. 

But then....I went to Madison with my mom and sister to get our Ironman tattoo's!  My mom and sis are both 1st time finishers and it was time to get their ink!  I had always said I would add to mine if I ever finished Kona.  So it was off to Madison to see Corey...the guy that Dan Monahan and I went to 5 years ago!

We had an absolute blast!  We got our Tat's....had dinner....drank a bunch....and crashed at the Hilton(Thank you Brian!).  As we chatted about our races, I was able to tell Mom and Cheryl how I was really feeling about my race.  Sometimes, only fellow athletes that have been through the journey can really understand how you feel.

As I recounted the day (a month had passed)...I was immediately put back in the lava fields.  I think the margarita's helped that too!  I talked about what it felt like out there...the crazy WIND (all the magazines and coverage have been talking about  how crazy it was)...and the HEAT.  I talked about all the highs and lows of the day.  And the complete exhaustion I felt when I crossed the line.

Then my mom told me about what SHE saw at the finish line.  She talked about how excited I was when I found them at the King Kam Hotel after the race.  She talked about how as the hugs and kisses emotions changed.  She saw the exhaustion coming over me...she saw the emotional toll the day had took....she told me how I had explained that this race was the HARDEST thing I've ever done.  She reminded me that I had gotten pretty emotional with my family...anyone that knows me well, knows that I'm not really a "crier."  Well, I couldn't contain the tears on this day.  I was proud, I was exhausted, and I was so thankful to everyone that had supported me.  I realized a dream that day and it was perfect.  I had left it all out is easy to nit pick when you are sitting on a couch watching TV and it is a perfect 70 degrees in your living room!  Pride...that is the emotion I feel now.

My mom helped me remember what it was like IN THAT MOMENT.  

So, learning from a race is healthy.  Even if it is the best race you've ever run.  My time wasn't the fastest Ironman I've done...but it was certainly a PR finish! 

I feel great right now.  I can't wait to get back to some "pre season" training in December.  The things I was sad about a few weeks ago...I've let them go.  BUT....they have motivated me for 2013!  My bike will get mental state on the run will toughen up even more!

It is fun to have new challenges and goals as I move into 2013.  I'll write about those in my next post...

For now, the Kona chapter is done.  I've qualified, I've raced, I've finished, I got my new ink.....and I am more passionate than ever about going back someday!  Kona hasn't seen the last of Team Barto :)

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!  I'm truly blessed with all the support I get from all of you.  Enjoy your "post season."  Don't take it too seriously...we have plenty of time to improve.  Today, I'll improve on my Turkey Leftover Eating Capabilities. 

Dedication, Passion, Results

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