When last speaking with my coach, his instructions were to take a week off from running and cycling.
“Swim however much you want,” he told me “and overeat.”
Are there better instructions on the planet that a professional telling you to overeat?
My body, he explained, was not just recovering from the Ironman race. It was recovering from the three months of heavy training leading up to the Ironman. And so last week I allowed myself a cornucopia of junk food. Granted, I tried to show some self-restraint, but the ability to eat bad food coupled with some general life stress made that apple pie from the cider mill not just delicious, but my best friend.
Granted, my definition of junk food may vary from another’s. For instance, when describing my shopping spree to my friend Taylor I mentioned buying a box of Pop Tarts.
“Oh,” she laughed. “That’s right. For you Pop Tarts would be junk food.”
To celebrate this week, I had a large ice cream sundae with my friends Sue and Herm to breakdown my Ironman. I would go into the kitchen for dark M&Ms breaks and eat cheesy burritos for lunch. There was a nice dinner, including a few glasses of red wine, with Mark. Then he bought me perhaps the best ice cream sandwich I have ever had.
Let me set the scene:
We were at the Connors 5K Wiener Run on Saturday. Connors Hot Dog Stand sponsored the run to raise money for a new local Boys and Girls Club. Growing up, Mark had worked at the stand. It was a no-brainer to register for the race since (a) Mark was a former Connors employee and (b) how can you pass up the chance to participate in something called “The Wiener Run?”
Mark set out for a hard effort and finished fifth overall, winning his age group.
I set out to jog the route and was probably going to end up walking, being just one week out from my Ironman and really not supposed to be running at all. That first half mile felt weird. Just strange. Running? What is this sensation? But my legs loosened up and I got into a nice easy pace and actually ended up finishing in my normal range for a 5K.
Waiting for the awards (which, note to the organizers, took a bit too long. Just a suggestion for improvement next year) Mark offered to buy me an ice cream sandwich from the stand which had now opened for its regular Saturday business. I had heard him talk about these ice cream sandwiches he and his co-workers would make. He practically wrote sonnets to them.
So naturally I had to try one.
And if I could remember the form for a sonnet, I would write one also.
The base were two huge Otis Spunkmeyer chocolate chip cookies filled with chocolate-vanilla twist soft serve. Not only was it large in diameter, it was thick. It was an ice cream sandwich as big as my head.
Hours later I would call over to Mark:
“Hey Mark! You know another thing about that ice cream sandwich ….”
Yeah. It went on all day.
As the second recovery week begins, the junk food will slow down. I’ll be adding more vegetables to my daily diet. My carbohydrates will be of the whole grain variety, not the white-flour based which fueled me through six-hour training sessions. My nutritional goal is to limit myself to one “treat” per day … and that at a normal serving size rather than, say, three quarters of an apple pie.
Yes, it’s time to start thinking about what I want to do next.
In the meantime, I’ll always have fond memories of that ice cream sandwich.