Sorry I'm a week out, but it took a while to complete my thoughts.
Ironman – Couer D’alene 6/21/09 A 20 year quest
I first became interested in triathlons back in 1988 when I was watching ABC Wide World of Sports. They were showing the Hawaiian Ironman. As I watched it, I saw Julie Moss crawl to the finish, pushing her body to the limit. It was at that moment that I said to myself, “I want to do an Ironman”. Now, jump through the time machine 20 years. I had just completed my last graduate school course for my masters. This is when I decided to try and sign up for Ironman-Couer D’alene in 2009. The day came when the online entry to it opened up. I sat at my computer at twelve noon waiting for that minute to sign up. Needless to say I was unsuccessful because entry opened up at noon PST. So I did some things and came back three hours later. The first time I tried to sign up, I got in. Now, I was committed. The very next day I drove to my local bike shop and ended up buying that Felt S32 that I had been eyeing for some time. I definitely needed a new bike for this adventure. In just two days, I had dropped close to $1700 for this race. So over the next fifty-one weeks I would calculate the costs of this trip and become more serious and focused about training for my first Ironman triathlon. I knew this would be one expensive adventure, but worthwhile adventure.
Let’s fast forward to the Wednesday before the Ironman race. I woke up at 3:45 am for my 6am flight out of BWI. After two stops, I sat in Denver, whereby I met up with my Minnesota friend, Danielle, and Doug from DC Tri We talked about the days leading up to the race and safely arrived at our destination. Over the next few days, we would take all of the pre-race steps leading up to game day. One good thing was that we flew to the western part of the U.S. so the time zone adjustment would not be a factor. Relaxation would also be a huge factor on race day performance. We tried not to do too much running around and not get caught up with all of the hype in the Ironman village. The Friday night before the race we had to attend a ‘mandatory’ meeting. Was this required? Were they going to take roll? There we went to this meeting with 2,000 other athletes for something I could have skipped. Anything imperative they would have told us already.
Race morning came early as my alarm went off at 4:20 a.m. Bright and early! We wanted to get down to the race site early enough to avoid any delays. Last minute details, like making sure my bike tires were properly inflated, knowing the landmarks that would help me locate my bag of clothes, and where my bike was racked. This morning I ran into my good friend, Jill, from Houston. I knew she was a good swimmer, but fifty-five minutes for a 2.4 mile swim. Unbelievable! No wonder she had a huge lead on me. I also, saw Lynn, Julie, and Anathea of DC Tri. Great to see familiar faces out in Idaho.
2.4 mile Swim: The swim was in the beautiful Lake Couer D’alene. Days leading up to the race we were able to get a practice swim in, but today the water was not as calm as those days. My strategy was to line up as far as possible on the right away from the masses. Then, after several hundred meters, I would cut over to the left and align myself closer to the rectangle course. This ended up being the most boneheaded move I have ever made on a swim. Okay, maybe not as bad as the time I did Columbia in 62 degree water without a wetsuit. Well, after I got out a bit and cut over I swam directly into a bunch of slower swimmers when I merged closer to the buoys. I am such an idiot! The turns around the far buoys were like a water polo match. I had to swim around, over and even under other swimmers. As I headed back to shore for the end of the first loop, I was able to get out in the open away from the masses. After exiting the water and crossing the timing mat, I charged back into the lake for the second lap. This second lap heading back out around the turn around buoys reminded me of those days of lifeguarding in Rehoboth Beach when the surf was rough. I kept getting water in my mouth every time I sighted. I felt like I was in a washing machine and it was on the wash cycle. Finally, I was able to make it past the red buoys and head back for the final push. As I exited the water, I immediately headed straight for the wetsuit peelers. I think it took them three seconds to get it off of me. Definitely one of the highlights of the day.
Swim time: 1:11:34 (1st loop – 34min).
T-1 My plan was to take my time and get properly dressed so I was comfortable for the long bike ride. Let me remind you that we had to exit the water, get out bike clothes bag, enter the changing tent, change into bike gear, make a quick port-a-stop, grab my bike and head out for the ride.
(7:37) Not too bad, but longer than I wanted.
112 mile Bike: I have never biked this far before and had only one century ride under my belt. My plan was to keep a steady pace and refuel as often as possible. This was a double loop course. Fortunately, we drove the course three days prior and saw how beautiful it was. There would be plenty of hills, especially around Hayden Lake. I think I saw my idea vacation home out there. As I biked, this stupid race belt that I just bought kept losing one notch of my race number. I think I adjusted it four times. Finally, I just tucked it in my bike shorts. That race belt is going to be a give away. There we some lonely parts out there so one thing I kept reminding myself was all of the 30 degree days I was biking to work in the winter and this is when it would pay off. It’s really hard to sum this up, but I had a lot of fun out there on the bike course. The hills and the four port-a-stops is what held me back. Bike time = 6:36 17.0/mph
T-2: As I rode into the chute, I saw my sister and good friend, Riley, cheering me on. Once in the changing tent, I completely changed into my tri gear and running shoes. My time was (5:40). What the heck was I doing in that tent so long?
26.2 mile run: Ah yes, my bread and butter. I knew once I started the run, there was no quit in my mind. Having 28 marathons under my belt gave me that confidence, but they have all been on fresh legs. For the first 12 miles, I was flying out there. I was rolling at about 8:10/mile, minus the pit stops. Then, the monkey jumped on my back (that’s a track saying when you slow down). I was hurting for a while. Arriving at one aid station, I heard they had coke. Heck, I said to the volunteer, I’ll try anything. Around mile 18, I saw my Houston friend, Jill. It was great to see a familiar face. Closing in at mile 21, I realized that I was at nearing the turnaround. YES, I thought! The home stretch! After the uphill turnaround, I began to run with one other fellow. My legs came back to me. Not caring about my pace, I just wanted to stay steady. After passing my 24, a few tears came to my eyes. The 20 year long dream would soon be accomplished. Now, as I make the last turn, only six blocks to go, I had a huge smile and pushed it to the finish. I think I passed one person, and there was someone else just ahead of me. I held back not wanting to rain on someone’s parade. Hearing my name called and crossing the finish line, I gave the ‘Big Papi’ two fingers point to my mom in the sky. Unbelievable, I said to myself. I still can’t believe I am done. Run time = 4:22:50
Total time = 12:23.44 854th overall
Now, it’s time to relax a bit. Marathon training will start in a month and a possible trip back to CDA in 2010 will be in the making. Looking forward to seeing everyone at the club events. Thanks for reading. -Hugh (your RD)
Way to go Hugh! You looked great the whole way, and never looked like you were hurting. It was great to see the DC Tri jersey out there. Way to put all that fitness to good use with an awesome time - and you didn't even seem to notice the wind, rain, and cooler temps! Maybe you were just too fast for the weather! :)
And a week post IM for the RR is great! Mine is still only partially written, so it's going to be a while!
Congrats Hugh. For some, this is just a race. For others, it's a lot more. Thanks for sharing. It's quite a inspirational and motivational story for those of who will follow your footsteps later on this year doing our first IM.
Great job, Hugh! Coke is it during long runs. Good luck on figuring which IM you'd like to sign up for next year.
Awesome race, Hugh. I'm glad you had such a great time. In fact, you almost make Ironman sound easy!
Thanks for the report. Sounds like you had a great race and enjoyed it. Congrats!
Awesome race! You do make it sound easy. Now you can kick back and watch everyone else go crazy... make sure to rub it in a little.
Congratlulations again Hugh. I enjoyed your report! Rest up and enjoy the long weekend.
Amazing race Hugh...I can't image coming out of the water, only to go back in again...I shuddered when you described it as a washing machine. Not an easy swim.
I'm awe struck...don't know if I'll ever make it to that point, but sure enjoyed reading about your journey and ultimate accomplishment. Congratulations!
I hear you about that swim. A friend of mine who has done ironmans in many locations said hands down that was her worst experience as far as IM swim conditions. It was insane out by those red bouys. At one point I popped my head up only to watch some chick get a massive elbow to the back of her head. I saw you about two blocks from the finish. I could see you were focused, especially since I was screaming Go Hugh! and you didn't look up. Congrats on an awesome finish!!
Congratulations Hugh! What a fantastic story. I loved hearing about your long journey to Ironman. You're such an inspiration! You almost make me want to sign...uh, nevermind. :)
If I were you I'd get the tatoo on my forehead!! WELL DONE!
I just signed up today for 2010 and went to read your report to get me excited. Great race!! Well done.
Hugh, just now saw and read your RR. Well done out there.
Hugh it's great to have a person like you to lead and inspire us. Thanks for the read and congrats, Ironman.
Thanks for the compliments everyone! Looks like this race field is stretching to DC. It'll be great to have people to train with. I just checked and the race is still open after five weeks. -Hugh