Reflections of Ironman: Sandy, Ryan and Coach KT
Our Orange County representatives give their thoughts on Ironman. First up, Sandy:
After six months of preparation, the day had finally arrived…November 16, 2014, Ironman Arizona. It’s 4:30am; the sun is still down, and I’m collecting my wetsuit and water bottles, while eating cereal and a bagel with peanut butter. I’m trying to pump myself up for a long day, but it’s only kind of working…
I arrive at Tempe Town Lake and it’s time to put my water bottles on my bike, drop off my special needs bags, get body markings, and shake off the nerves. I am anxiously awaiting the start, and soon enough I’m in the water…it’s, GO TIME! The cannon fires and it is instant chaos. There are swimmers all around and I just hope I don’t get kicked too many times. It’s a loooooong swim, and I climb out of the water after an hour and a half.
On land the volunteers are running the show, shepherding the athletes through the transition. I climb on my bike and I feel energized as I leave Tempe Beach Park and turn left onto Rio Salado Parkway, but it’s not long before the nasty headwinds drain my enthusiasm. As the day wears on, the winds get increasingly angry and I think to myself…this SUCKS, but I guess it’s not supposed to be easy. Six hours and 33 minutes later, I’m back in transition. My eyes are stinging from the dry winds, and I’m thinking to myself…two parts down, one to go.
Again the volunteers go above and beyond. They take my bike, set up my shoes, grab my sunglasses, and of course, hook me up with sunblock. I head out for my run (more like a slow jog). I hit mile 1, then 2…soon it’s starting to get dark. Around a quarter of the way through the marathon I approach an aid station. They have water, they have Coke, they have…RED BULL! Whoohooo!! Then comes mile 8, then 9, I eventually get to the second loop/finish split. At this point, with enough Red Bull, I know I can finish.
Approaching South Ash Avenue, the lights are becoming brighter and I can hear the crowd. My feet start to move faster, and I probably look like I’m actually running. I’m high fiving the crowd as I come to the finish…140.6, DONE!
PS – Thank you to Pete, Katie and the rest of the CFC team for all the training and support, and for making my Ironman dream a reality!
Coach Pete, Katie and the entire CFC team were just what I was looking for in a triathlon coach. My story is very similar to many of the Ironman participants – In my 40’s looking for a challenge, triathlon is a just hobby and does not pre-occupy my life, I have a full time professional job, and a wife & young kids. I had 10-12 hours max to give to training. I used other coaches in the past but what I have found many are just program writers. I was looking for a coach to provide me both interactive (verbal) coaching in addition to writing a program. Pete and Katie were always accessible (phone, email, text) throughout the entire training process. Pete has a unique ability bring levity and entertainment to what can be some very long training weeks. One thing I truly appreciated was Pete and Katie were literally with me throughout the race providing support. I was able to set an Ironman PR and reach my goal of a sub 12 hour time. I was thoroughly satisfied by my experience and will be staying with CFC for future races.
Coach Perspective: Ironman Arizona
It’s not everyday you get to share in watching someone’s goals play out, but Ironman certainly does offer that opportunity.
The journey obviously starts many months in advance as you lay out the season leading up to said race, then builds as the hours of prep and work start coming together. (You all know what I’m talking about.) So it was definitely a no-brainer when we had a group of our athletes going to race just five hours away that we would be there to support and see these dreams come to fruition.
As we approached the start of the race, on the brisk Tempe morning, it dawned on me that I was infact happy to not be racing and only ‘spectating’. What I wasn’t prepared for though, is that to ‘spectate’ as a coach actually makes for quite a stressful day. The cannon goes, and you know the test is on.
Elation was the first emotion that came around the one hour mark as we saw our first athlete. One discipline down, two to go, good work. More athletes came through as the start started to rise, and cheers were going as strong as the winds were building.
Having a number of athletes out on the course makes for a lot of checkpoint chances, and coupled with a multiple lap course meant there was always someone to be on the lookout for. It’s when you inadvertently miss someone that things get a bit crazy. Are they ok, did they get a flat, crash? It’s always the most dramatic scenarios that come to mind first. Pacing the street, worrying, then realizing there is a tracker to check – and what do you know, they passed half an hour earlier they were just going so fast we missed them 😉
It’s amazing how quickly the day goes, before we knew it we were out on the run course. We stood at a point that allowed four sightings before we’d then head to finish chute. I know I’ve said it before but Sandy smiled the whole marathon and that was great to see. He admits he was doing something he honestly didn’t think he truly could and he was filled with joy through the process. LOVE IT!
The final miles. We hadn’t seen anyone for a while (we left them with nine miles to go) so now it was just a waiting game. Cue more pacing – this time we can’t look at splits because no-ones phone still is holding charge after the 5am start! And then they start rolling in, as if Mike Reilly is calling them home with the official ‘Ironman’ title.
There’s no hiding at the finish line. Raw emotions, true feelings, real expressions of all that went down comes pouring out. And that is what really makes it all worth it. Let’s do it again sometime soon. Love, coach KT