Ironman 70.3 Coeur d’Alene (Idaho) Recap
Big shout out to all the challenged athletes who participated in a tough half Ironman! They are strong and determined bunch; and to all who supported them! I was fortunate enough to meet all them. They each got their brave and courageous stories and I was so happy to participate with them.
I would also like to mention Bruce, the friend I stayed with over in Spokane Washington. I had met him in Kona, Hawaii; he was staying in the same condo complex. In a word, he was great! Though meeting him once before, he offered to put me up for a good week (with my wife arriving two days later). What a blessing that was! Thank you, Bruce!
In the days leading up to the event, I met for lunch some friends I had known only from Facebook, swam the lake, met some more friends, attending athlete’s check-in, checked my bike in, had lunch with Bruce, drove part way on the bike course, and had a surprise TV interview. Busy!!
The morning of Ironman, I woke at 2 AM, drank coffee and Perpetuem, had a brief warm up run, had my breakfast of a bagel, peanut butter, and a banana, packed my stuff in the car, and off we (my wife and I) drove to Coeur d’Alene. Bruce met us there a half hour later.
I got to the transition area and I set up for the days activities – 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, and 13.1 mile run. Swim: wetsuit, cap, and googles. Crap, forget Glide for use with wetsuit. Thankfully, someone had extra. Bike: solid nutrition, water, liquid nutrition, bike shoes, helmet, and electrolyte tabs. Crap, forgot one bottle of liquid nutrition. I decided to go without. Run: shoes, socks, race number, liquid nutrition, electrolyte caps, and sunglasses. By the time I was finished setting up, I didn’t have time to make my final short run.
Thankfully, I had Allen, a trained handler for physically challenged athletes! He kept me organized, got me some things, helped me into my wetsuit, and was the voice of reason throughout the day. Thank you, Allen!
The swim started off good. They had the physically challenged athletes start right after the pro women. Start time was approx 6:10 AM. It felt good, the cool clear water, as I worked my way around the course. There was no one to draft after (the pros were too fast), and they’re no one drafting after me. So I thought… “Wonder if will know if I have SIPE (Swimming Induced Pulmonary Edema, a potentially fatal condition while swimming)?”, “Is it over yet?”, practicing good arm dynamics, and all while having to adjust continually from heading off to the right. Finally, I was done and first out of the water for my category. I let the wetsuit strippers do the thing and ran towards my bike. 36:19 was my time for the swim.
With my wetsuit off, I was busy getting ready for the bike ride. I am slow in transitions, and as I was getting ready, all the physically challenged athletes passed me. I had extra trouble with my Garmin and my shoes. I consumed gel, drank some water, and Hotshot (designed to prevent cramping) and I was out of transition 1 in 8:05. Too slow.
The bike is my weakest discipline. When I first started looking into Coeur d’Alene, quite frankly, the bike portion scared me. Long uphills at 5% grade. Thus, I spent this winter working to tackle hills. I spent time at the YMCA in spinning class, and through the Challenged Athletes Foundation, I was able to get a smart trainer that has hill capabilities. Through it all, while still intimidated, I felt I was ready.
Being one of the first one’s out of the water, I got passed by a whole lot of cyclists over the course of 56 miles. An awfully lot. I kept my cool, though. I was racing against myself. While on mile one, I lost my reserve water bottle out of my back jersey. Bummer. That was my favorite one.
By mile 20, I began the first of my long climbs. I kept my head focused on the immediate road before me. It was tough. Then came hill two. Not as steep but longer. Fine. I did it! Half way through, I took a bathroom stop, filled up on water, and proceeded do to the hills in the reverse order. In all, I did it; not fast, but it did it. Victory! I did the bike portion in 3:39:07.
I put my bike up in the bike rack, ate another gel, drank another Hotshot, drank water, put on my race belt with my number, and I was off in 6:20. Again, too slow.
This was a run from hell. I started out fine. I was running within my self and was not too tired. My stride was satisfactory, too, thanks to TurboMed Orthotics, which help keep my drop foot under control.
Suddenly, I had to use the port a potty on lap 2 of two lap course. I stopped four times to relieve myself due to my stomach rebelling. I was miserable, to say the least. However, stroke survivors kept me going. Stroke survivors have a lot to go through, and if I have to energy to run, I will run for stroke survivors! The time in the bathrooms costs me a minimum 18 minutes. Oh, well. I averaged 11:32 per mile, including my pit stops, and I finished at 2:31:09. I was hoping for a 2:15 or better mark.
In summary, I was happy with how my race overall turned out. Darn pit stops, but that’s what participating in an endurance contest is like sometime! Sometimes you have it, sometimes it has you!
I would like to thank stroke survivors (and others) who wish me well and are inspired to continue pressing on the a fuller life regardless of restriction you face. Yes, you may never do what you once did. I know I can’t. But there is more to life to be discovered. I’m still learning that!
There are many stroke survivors who can’t swim, bike, and/or run, much less walk, live independently, read, or write. I was there at one point. I recognize that I was lucky to recovered enough to swim, bike, and run, but there is great joy and power in learning to tell your story of how you were able to overcome your deficits like learning to say a new word, being able to button shirt, walking a few steps, and learning to use a fork, for example.
I’m still learning about life and competition. All who know me will testify how competitive I can be. But life is more than a competition. It’s knowing that despite obstacles, how I handle it is what counts. Sure, I would’ve liked to improve my time but if I let time be my primary indicator, I miss out one the joy of participating in the half Ironman! To be able to participate in any sporting competition is joy!
Thank you to all people who support me, to my board, to my sponsors (Challenged Athletes Foundation, TurboMed Orthotics, and Chinese Medicine of Idaho), to God who believes in me, and to my wife (part time Ironman widow). And finally, to the people who who helped fund Stroke Survivors CAN!, I couldn’t provide hope and empowerment to other stroke survivors or sponsor other athletes who are stroke survivors.
If this blogs touches you, won’t to please consider to make a donation to Stroke Survivors CAN!, a nonprofit devoted to helping stroke survivors find hope and empowerment.
You can write a check to:
Stroke Survivors CAN
3451 E. Copper Point Dr.
Meridian, ID 83642
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