One of the most common ailments of Ironmen and women is “The Post-Ironman Blues”, usually a combo of melancholy, restlessness, and mental strife that comes after devoting your mind, body and spirit to something for nine or more months, only to have it all end abruptly after one colossal tidal wave of a day washes over your life and strips it bare again.
The hilarity I find in this is that we spend these nine months fantasizing about what our lives will be after it’s all over, and we have “all of the free time in the world to do whatever we want.” I dreamed of re-organizing my apartment, taking hikes with the dog, getting back into Pilates, painting, taking woodworking classes, music concerts, going to art shows, enjoying the beach, and so much more. One week post Ironman, I have made no moves to do any of these things. I still can’t get enough sleep. Furthermore, this void, this nothingness, feels unnatural. I thought that I could go back to being the me that I was before I started this. The truth is, I cannot go back. Something in me is forever changed. I don’t know what that means, and how I can fit into the “normal” world again, but I guess that it’s safe to say that I feel a little bit lost.
The only thing that I have planned is a marathon, because I know for certain that running is a part of me now, but what else? What next? Who am I? What do I want? These questions I never thought that I’d be asking myself at 33 years of age. I thought that I’d had these things figured out before now. Now, without that looming goal in front of me, and all of the little goals in-between, I’m having to re-define myself.
Of course, people keep asking whether I’ll want to “seek revenge” on the Vineman course next year. While there is a part of me who wants to know what it feels like to cross an Ironman finish line, I felt happy with everything that I accomplished. I have no regrets out there on the course. If I hadn’t finished the bike course, I would have been filled to the gills with regrets, but I accomplished what I set out to do. So, what next? Do I pick out another Ironman and set my sites on it, or do I find other goals and come back to it later?
It’s all a big question mark, but I do know that I’m no longer the same person I was when I started this journey. I am more patient with myself, more grateful, and tough as nails, to boot. I can do anything that I put my mind to. The world is my oyster and I have a feeling that there are still a lot more pearls to discover about myself.