Or tipping point. Or a little of both, which I know is a complete contradiction.
I am now at the 3 weeks post race state, and now with less than 3 weeks to go until the next one. As is the case with anyone, I have been through a spectrum of physicality's since Ironman Canada (IMC). Luckily for me I was able to be distracted for the first two weeks, happy with my result, accepting of the fatigue my body exuded and ok with the feeling of learning to move again. Being amused with how much shock your body absorbs, however, only lasts so long.
Then you enter that state that so many others have been in, no longer just basking in your soreness and inability to put your pants on without almost falling over. Now the state of active recovery, you are dealing with a state of diminished return of what you thought was a pretty great state of fitness you worked up to about ~ 3 weeks ago. What happened? Where did that go? Why is this so hard?
So you reach a balance point of recovery & willingness to move forward. You also reach a tipping point of a calm restorative state into one of what I call 'panic-don't-panic'. That has been me for the last week or so now that I've started to train with purpose again. Panic-don't-panic. I think 'panic' can be the default to restart your momentum , but 'don't panic' has been even more important. It's the case study of 'stress'. What is good stress, what is bad? I think we all know the answer to that question.
I always seem to be the slowest person to recover. Or perhaps, the only person to admit as such. And maybe even one of (I think) the minority who allow themselves to recover. I'm not sure. There never seems to be any points for being the 'slowest' at something - although it usually seems to work out in my favour eventually. I've most certainly been on the other side of the fence, learned my lesson and hopped over to where the grass is greener (and more nutritious), and there are less minefields to trip over. Ka-boom.
I am learning to not let it bother me, because, really, it serves no purpose to be worried about others. I have been very consistent about being 100% ready for my big races when that day arrives. I do not doubt myself during races, I just perform to my ability. So I really shouldn't worry about what my body is doing (I imagine little factories of reorganization, hammers & nails, flushing of gunk, repainting a nice shiny coat of something) - but I can't help but feel what is going on. And that feeling appears to trigger that state of 'panic' - but I've learned, and have many great people to remind me - don't panic.
So every day has been better. But we're talking, uh, 1% better, 5% on a good day. And I find myself still accepting congratulations as I continue to run into people who I haven't seen since the race, and now starting to feel like I really need to get my head out of, let's say, 'the clouds', and get real about the next race. I don't feel like I am going from a 'baby' race at IMC to the 'monster' race at Kona. I feel like I am going from a 'pretty damn tough race' at IMC to a 'monster' race at Kona. I had a competitive finishing time at IMC, that isn't going to evaporate just because this country grows pineapples instead of hardy evergreens.
Some people will gasp their triathlon gasp when I say this, but Kona is just another race. It's the same distance, through the same mediums, with a slightly different feel (lift your bike off pavement & smash it down winds, and something hot called the 'energy lab', and I guess if you're lucky, a shark eats you during the swim so you don't have to suffer your way through the rest of the course). There is so much hype - and that is what makes it exciting. It is also quite difficult to get into - and I most certainly respect the qualifying process and appreciate how it continues to raise the bar for what is 'excellence' in this sport.
However, to spend your days cowering and giving in before you ever step foot on course seems counter productive to me. You may make fun of me later, but I'm excited for these conditions the same as I was for IMC. Tisk-tisk, I can hear you saying, but, that's your style of thinking, not mine. I initially suckered myself into believing that I would be chum on the water on this course, but I don't think I will. I think I've constantly put myself into the low lying ranks because I'm reasonably inexperienced compared to so many. Sometimes naivety is a good thing. And in this race, I really don't have anything to lose.
In case you're unfamiliar with the course-slash-propaganda machine, here's a quick peak:
Ironman Hawaii - Winds
And I'm sure you've seen this, but if you haven't:
And my personal favourite:
The slow-mo musical montage
I must say, I'm quite excited for this. I might even fall off my bike - but chances are, I'll get back up and keep riding. At this tipping point where I attempt to keep things steady and continue moving forward, I have a lot within me and a lot to get out of me on a hot & windy course. The balance point.
But it's just another race, right?