Life After Ironman

Ironman Wales

The first time I'd heard of the 'Ironman blues' was half way through the run when I was chatting to Ian, a friend I had made on the course. We were slogging it up the 4km hill out of Tenby on our 2nd lap when he casually asked 'have you heard of the Ironman blues'. How does it feel post race? I'd swum 2.4 miles, cycled 112 miles and run a marathon in under 13 hours. I'd come 8th in my age-group, avoided walking during the run and crossed the line with a smile on my face. I'd achieved more than I'd hoped for in Wales. Time to go home, feel on top of the world and put my feet up, right? Wrong.

I normally love that feeling of complete body and mind exhaustion you get after completing an endurance challenge. Your legs feel heavy, you can enjoy well earned beer and comfort food. You get clean and warm and look forward to the best night's sleep you'll ever have. The next day you are walking like John Wayne but you feel smug all day, basking in the knowledge that you've achieved something great and you don't have to train.

It had been like that after all my challenges and adventures, so I saw no reason why the aftermath of Ironman Wales would be any different. I was in for a treat!

Back in the valley, quick beer whilst we wait for the bus home
Back in the valley, quick beer whilst we wait for the bus home
Pizza after a long climb in the Alps
Pizza after a long climb in the Alps

Post race I couldn't eat or drink. Nicola, my Mother-in-law, had saved a bottle of champagne from our wedding in May and brought it to Tenby for post race celebrations. I could barely sip at it. Charley had made a chocolate cake for us, I couldn't eat it. Chocolate cake and champagne, two of my favourite things! That night I couldn't sleep, my mind would not relax. I felt restless and my legs ached so hard it woke me up. It took one week before I slept through the night again. This wasn't feeling right.

Chocolate cake
Chocolate cake

Later the next day I got back to London and read through the incredible messages of support on Twitter and Facebook. After reading them, I instantly crashed. What was next? I felt completely discombobulated and decided I was just exhausted and needed a good nights sleep.

4am I was awake again. I checked my emails. One from Mark, my coach:

Hi Iron(Wo) Man

Congratulations on a fine performance. I am so pleased for you

Enjoy the Post Ironman Blues

Ironman Blues

Thanks Mark :) So that's what this is...

The worst post event blues I've had until now was after the 3 Peaks Cycle Challenge. On Day 4, we woke up at 7am on the summit of Ben Nevis after cycling 450 miles and climbing 3 mountains in 3 days. We walked down the mountain, drove 500 miles back from Fort William, got home at 2am and I was back in work by 9am the following morning.  What a whirlwind! I hadn't given myself time to absorb and adjust and hence had a massive crash a few days later.

Post Ironman Wales I didn't have to go back to work the next day. I'm still in the process of ironing out the details of my next professional focus and without being able to train, I didn't have that structure to help me return to life after the race. It's been difficult to know what to focus on without a focus. 

I was down with a cold for a week. Probably a good thing as it forced me to rest. Once you've hung up your medal, removed your race tattoos, looked through your pictures a million times and finally put your finisher's t-shirt in the wash, what do you do next?

I've been using this opportunity to work on growing Challenge Sophie and creating opportunities to work with brands I love. I also feel like I to figure out what my next challenge is.

Do I want to try and qualify for Kona? Do an ultra marathon? Row an Ocean? Cycle the world? Or just be.

Whatever I decide it will be in the pursuit of achieving my best and enjoying the process. I'm not motivated by being the first or fastest to achieve something. I'm motivated by challenges that push me physically and mentally. I love to enjoy the experience, to learn, grow, and share the journey with others.

The experience of sharing my journey online with you wonderful readers has been immense. I can't thank you enough for taking the time to read, comment and share your dreams with me - it means a lot.

Thanks as ever, Sophie x

Big thank you from me. Keep Smiling
Big thank you from me. Keep Smiling