Ah, recovery week. Like a refreshing gulp of icy cold water while your ass is baking in the hot sun sitting atop a saddle as you pedal your way across a volcanic island.
Did I really sign up for that thing?
I made it through the week. At times I wondered if I was really, truly enjoying my recovery week because I found myself busy (and sober) for most of it. The best recovery weeks tend to be complete falls from grace. If you’ve gotten through the week eating one vegetable and sleeping in until 10 am, you’ve done it right. Unfortunately I need to poop and I have a child. The week wasn’t quite as lazy and wild as it could have been. There were, however, moments of recovery-week greatness, like going to bed at 8 pm two nights in a row and waking up at 6 am. I think in my former non-parental life that would have qualified me as “lame” but now as a parent I’m pretty sure that qualifies me as “legend”.
In order to avoid spending too much energy while thinking during recovery week, I spent weeks before the race thinking about it. Being a goal-oriented person, I set some goals.
Goal #1: Eat Dairy Queen for dinner.
Checked this one right off the list the night of the race. Why wait? We were at the race site until 4 pm so this may have been the first thing I put into my mouth after racing aside from a recovery drink. In case you ever race Eagleman, be warned, unless you want to eat McDonald’s or Dairy Queen for dinner, there’s slim pickings. Rather than fight it, I headed straight to the DQ and ordered a large – yes LARGE – Blizzard with peanut butter cups and cookie dough. Nothing like fighting inflammation with inflammation!
You know, that cookie dough has trans fats in it.
That was from my husband. The irony is: THAT WAS FROM MY HUSBAND. I didn’t care much about the trans fats. What’s life if you can’t eat a meal that’s 50 percent trans fat and 50 percent sugar every once in awhile?
This dinner, though, had been a long time coming. For 6 weeks I gave up pretty much everything – no sugar, no cheat meal, no dessert on the weekend because it’s the weekend, no WINE and in the last week to make a final push towards the finish line – no cream in my decaf coffee.
Because drinking decaf isn’t sad enough.
Goal #2: Eat wine for dinner.
Hey, you don’t live on turkey, carrots, sweet potatoes and quinoa for weeks on end without having very specific plans for how you’re going to exorcise all of your junk food demons so you don’t want to see them for another 8 weeks. Wine is sometimes my junk food. A glass here, a glass there.
But on Thursday I knew I was going to eat wine for dinner – not counting how many glasses just enjoying every last sip. We went out with some friends. I was expecting it to be about 2 hours. Roughly many (but who's counting) glasses later, we rolled in around midnight. I learned a very valuable recovery week lesson: I am too old to be drinking until midnight. It’s a lot more fun when you’re younger and you don’t have a child who wakes up at 6 am.
I’m just glad I didn’t get talked into the shot of tequila (cough, ahem, er, Chris Waterstraat).
Goal #3: Eat crumb cake for breakfast.
I saved this one for Saturday. On my schedule was a 2-hour ride that read “for fun.” Hey, if I’m going to pay my coach to write workouts, I’m going to take them seriously. No pace, no watts. This is “fun”. And drafting? Highly encouraged and a smart way to conserve energy for consumption of pastries and coffee.
I had tapered all week for this event. Thought about it for weeks. Every Saturday there’s a “French Market” in Wheaton. I’m not sure what makes it French, it’s a bunch of vendors, some farmers selling organic from the farm produce, some nuns selling baked goods, some people selling flowers. There’s also crumb cake from a local bakery. Giant squares of moist sugar and crumbly goodness.
I may or may not have been dreaming about it for weeks.
The plan was to gather up the entire family and pedal 10 miles north to Wheaton. The entire family being my two sister-in-laws, both of their daughters, my brother-in-law, father-in-law, Max and Chris. If you were on the Prairie Path on Saturday around 11 am, you may have been overtaken by what felt like a whole lot of Waterstraat. But I don’t apologize.
My in-laws front yard quickly turned into a scene from Ragbrai morning – a mess of wheels, helmets and other stuff you need to ride 20 miles with 3 small children. I’m pretty sure we violated some code of coolness by carrying diapers on a Surly.
We headed out to the path. The pace was relaxing. Not slow, I mean, I’ve ridden slow before – once on Ragbrai, Tim and I maintained a 4.4 mph paceline, two women passed us (“on your left”) with one saying to the other, “what are they on?” Today, we were cruising along, chit chatting or just letting the mind get lost in its own thoughts. You don’t get many opportunities in life like this. Our world is full of so much stimulation and static. It’s good to quiet the mind and slow things down.
By the first hill, my FIL had dropped us. Had to feel a little sorry for my younger SIL who was on a single speed. And then there was Chris hauling the kids in a Burley attached to a mountain bike. As we climbed the first hill, Chris told us to go around him.
As if you any of us had the balls to pass a guy wearing an Ironman Hawaii finisher’s jersey pulling a Burley with two children up a hill.
We actually did get passed by a lot of people but collectively as a group passed a dude on a horse. I’m pretty sure we all got a little ego boost out of that.
Some of the family took energy conservation seriously. Drafting? Your call.
We arrived at the market and I made a quick beeline to the crumb cake. Not wanting the pressure of having to choose which type of crumb cake I wanted, I bought a piece of all three and threw in a brownie just because. You never know when you’re going to crave chocolate.
The bakery staff assured me that none of these pieces contain trans fats.
Much food was bought, some lemonade, coffee. We sat, we talked, we listened to the music.
Here Aubrey eyes the box of cake with stranger danger to her left and a cup of hot coffee to her right, Maeda sits with a damp cheesecloth on her head (my SIL calls this sun protection) and Max plays by an electrical outlet. This photo is like something straight out of Safety Town.
I left Max with Chris while I did some shopping, came back to find him covered in dirt, strawberries and eating wood chips. Combine all that dirt with the heat and it seemed the appropriate time then to do a very Ragbrai-esque hose shower at a nearby fire hydrant.
On the way back, we were all pumped full of sugar and caffeine so we took the extra long way. The weather was beautiful and it was one of those priceless family adventures we won’t forget. There was conversation, someone was singing the ABC song. If the backdrop were the mountains, I’d say we could have been mistaken for the Von Trapp family. Minus the matching curtain outfits.
What always surprises me about recovery week is that I basically spend a week living like the general public – doing nothing, riding 11.8 mph, eating junk, boozing on a Thursday night. I have no idea how people do this. It’s fun for a few days but then I start to crave something green and a workout lasting longer than 35 minutes. By week’s end, if I’ve done it right: I cannot wait to return to my usual routine.
So, next week I’m back on the wagon. As far as recovery weeks go, this one was pretty tame. I still fit into the wagon. The wagon still has all 4 wheels. I’ve had some classic recovery weeks where I’m pretty sure I lost a wheel. Or might have eaten it. Those weeks are called “epic” and I’m saving one like that for the week beginning October 10th.
Yeah, I’m feeling mostly recovered and excited to tackle training again. I think that means I’m ready. Well, ready or not. You can’t ever be truly ready for Ironman or even Ironman training. You just take it day to day. And, fake it ‘til you make it. Or until you get a really painful saddle sore. Then, you call Dr. Nuts and stay off your bike for a few days.
It’s all coming back to me…