Words can not describe the feeling of finishing an Ironman event! It is an exciting and exhilarating experience no matter the performance results. Nothing can take away from the joy you feel while running down the finish chute of a race knowing you will accomplish a difficult goal you set out to complete. All the many months of training and long grueling day of swim, cycling and running 140.6 miles lead you to this amazing moment of completion and feeling of accomplishment as you cross the finish line and hearing your name over the intercom announced, “You are an Ironman.” If you are considering doing an Ironman, I highly suggest it (let me know if I can help, I would LOVE to coach you!). It is an amazing journey and accomplishment that no one can ever take away from you. Once you are an Ironman you are always and Ironman! I am grateful I have had the privilege to complete three of them now.
For me leading up to this race my focus was not just about finishing but finishing strong and meeting my current potential. Although I didn’t meet my goals fully, there were some true successes that came from this race.
I have come to the realization that rarely does my race swim time reflect my true ability, due to arm damage I don’t swim straight (believe me I have tried lol). I felt really good during the swim and had a strong swim according to my watch, sadly I swam many extra yards! I’ve had this problem ever since I had shoulder surgery ten years ago; these seemingly slow times used to really bother me but now I’ve learn to laugh about it imagining what I look like from a birds eye perspective swimming all over the place . I always hope to make it up on the bike. I still get nervous around traffic on the bike so I was so happy to have a mostly closed course. I was able to complete it in over a 20 mph averaged which was good and I felt strong.
Just over 3 years ago I was struck by a truck while riding my bicycle resulting in knee surgery. Since then it has been a struggle to find the balance between volume and intensity for running. I believe this year has been the most successful with striking that balance and I have had many strong half marathon performances leading up to the race including two 1:33/1:34 half’s pacing just over 7 min miles. One being just one week before the Ironman event. Despite holding back my hamstrings didn’t seem to tolerate as well as they should. Unfortunately this left me having to dig even deeper to push through the Ironman marathon with issues starting at mile two. Obviously this slowed my time immensely but I learned that I can push through pain and disappointment for over four hours and not give up. So in a way I did “finishing strong,” just not the way I originally had in mind. They took good care of me in the medical tent after the race. Despite the struggles I managed to place 13 in my division with an overall time of 11:29:38 There are many “What if’s” I have contemplated but that just gets me down so I want to focus on what I did right. Here’s what I came up with:
- I prepared myself well for the event with good consistent training.
- I took care of details like RockTape on my knee for support and my neck to prevent chafing (works like a charm). Running in my Hoka’s, use Chamois Butt’r and taking along a GoStik to reapply during the run under my arms to minimize chafing (check out my product review).
- I left the slow swim time behind me. I literally laughed about it on the bike and let it go.
- I had a strong bike leg and was able to stay focused on nutrition despite some nausea.
- I pushed myself on the run and dug deep to finish as fast as my body would allow for the day. I kept going even when it was physically & mentally hard.
- I finished with a smile on my face and gratitude in my heart. It’s fun to check another state off my 50 states goal.
Not all races, if any, go as planned. Results can be difficult to swallow but there is always some thing to learn. You always seem to learn more when you struggle more. I can’t say I wanted to do another Ironman right away, like my first one, but I do now. I still have things I want to accomplish with this distance. So until the next one I will continue to learn, grow and progress. There is much yet to accomplish! Get a feel for this amazing Ironman experience in the clip below. Don’t hesitate to reach out with questions or comments.
Coach Lora Erickson