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Monday, August 11th, 2008

Well, July has been a month where recovery was the goal – but not entirely the reality. The thing about really long endurance races like Primal Quest, where you spend days pushing it to your physical limits, is that they deplete you on so many levels. There are so many systems in the body – cardiovascular system, musculo-skeleton system, endocrine system – and they all work together and can all be taxed by extreme stress, be it physical, emotional or mental. Primal Quest was kind of a mixture of all of the above. I had a lot of long sleeps after PQ, but seemed to feel more and more tired. My team was registered to race in the Gorge Games in Hood River Oregon, just two weeks after Primal Quest ended. It was a spectacularly beautiful 24 hour adventure race, involving paddling, trekking and mountain biking in some very beautiful wilderness. Unfortunately, the race felt like day 10 of Primal Quest, and it took a lot of energy to get through it. The amazing thing about the human body is that it can somehow persevere beyond what the mind thinks capable. However, the mind seems to have a bit of a scorecard, as far as sleep and nutrition are concerned! In any case, ever since the Gorge Games, I have needed to catch up on a lot of sleep, and I have had incredible cravings for things like cantelope melon, bing cherries, sushi and miso soup.

Now that these two adventure races are over, I have been re-directing my training to be a bit more triathlon-specific. Ironman Hawaii is the next big race on my calendar, and I want to give this a solid effort. I have been getting in the pool a lot more, and am riding my road bike on the weekends instead of my mountain bike.

As I am still recovering from my long adventure races, I have to be very careful to listen to my body. Some days, I have surprisingly strong workouts and feel like I have extra blood coursing through my veins. On other days, however, I feel quite tired and end up sleeping almost 10 hours.

On the work front, I have been very busy with travel. I am currently on my fifth business trip in 3 months. I work for an alternative energy startup company, which is very exciting and sometimes quite demanding. One always feels the temptation to work more and do less of other things. I’ve learned through other demanding jobs that this rarely ends up as a sustainable strategy, so I’ve actually made more of an attempt to put healthy boundaries around my work. I believe that the combination of sport, rest and a healthy social network do much more to fuel a successful career than does the martyr approach. In any case, the result is that I feel more motivated and excited by my job.

I am looking forward to the month of August, where I can finally get into a zone with training and perhaps actually spend a few weekends in the Bay area, instead of traveling all over for work and races. I’ve definitely got some solitary nights of movies in my massage chair planned, that’s for sure!!

Iona MacKenzie

A manufacturing engineer by trade, turned triathlete and adventure race competitor, Iona Mackenzie has built a reputation as one of the toughest competitors on the circuit. She has been dubbed the “Queen of the Machine,” for her machine like ability to overcome physical pain during races.

“Our bodies are the vessels which house our souls, hearts and minds. They are here for us to live through, not just to hang clothes on. Play hard, work solid, eat well – and REST. For me, that’s the quickest recipe to happiness.”

- Iona MacKenzie