11/3/13

IMFL - Proud coach and inspired spectator

We ran 2.5 miles from our homestay to watch the IMFL swim start. 


We couldn't wait to see our friends and athletes start their Ironman day. A day that was months in the making and the culmination of many miles and hours of training. Most people would say that the Ironman distance triathlons is hard.
Absolutely. 
But getting to the starting line is one of the most rewarding experiences that any athlete can receive. 



Although choppy waters, the day was absolutely perfect for PR's and great performances. There is no "easy" Ironman course or day so the understanding is that for those who are mentally strong, they are the ones who can take their trained body to the finish line knowing that it won't be easy - BUT it will be worth it. 




With soaked shoes and socks, standing in calf high water, we waited to see our athletes finish the first loop of the two loop swim course. I couldn't believe that Karel could spot so many of our friends and athletes after running a few yards along the sandy beach to re-enter the water. There's nothing better than hearing your name as you are about to swim in the sea, all alone with your thoughts and 3000+ other athletes thinking the same crazy thoughts with you "Why am I doing this?"



                                   

We waited in the transition area for 20 minutes to secure the perfect spot to cheer on our friends and athletes as they grabbed their swim-to-bike (Transition 1 bag) after exiting the water and then cheered for them again after changing in the men/women changing tent before running to grab their bike from the racks. I couldn't believe how many people we knew doing this race (over 30 from Jacksonville!) alongside our own coaching and nutrition athletes so it was so great to cheer for those who inspire us.

We drove 30 minutes to see athletes on the out-and-back section of the course, around mile 90-97. Knowing that you have only 20 miles or so to go is a great feeling but from experience, the last 2 hours of the Ironman 112 mile bike ride can be lonely with a lot of lows. 



Out and back sections are one of the best places for athletes...

IMFL 2007 - my first Ironman.
In 2007, Karel (my boyfriend at the time) wanted my parents to head to the course to see me on the bike. My mom was worried they would miss me on the run but Karel insisted that I would enjoy seeing them on the bike as 112 miles is a long way to go when there are not as many spectators as there on the run course.

He was right.

I was so surprised when I saw them and it totally made my day. I was in a low spot and when I saw my family and Karel as I was heading out on the first out and back section, I think I sprinted on my bike because I was just so excited to head back to see them again!




Campy and I and Karel stayed in two separate spots so that our athletes would see Karel first and then Campy could give them a cheer. It worked perfectly and I think I saw a lot of smiles on faces to hear a cheer from Iron Doggy Campy. 



Wheatberry salad from Panera (without Chicken)

After a quick take-out as we headed back to the race venue, we were excited to cheer on our athletes and friends and everyone else to the finish line.

There is something really incredible about the first mile (and last) of the Ironman and the crowd support at PCB did not disappoint.  The music from the Atlanta Tri Club was contagious as it was hard to not want to dance and cheer for every single athlete who was running - from the pros who finished in record time (the sub 8 hours!) to the very last finisher at midnight...and even the handful of athletes still on the course after midnight. What's so amazing about the Ironman is that although you have to finish before midnight, the staff at Ironman will wait til everyone finishes...even if at 12:10pm. And the spectators LOVE the last hour so there are no shortage of cheers past 11pm (after 16 hours of racing).



From 3pm until midnight, we were on the run course. We hung out a bit at our friend's RV but aside from that - Campy, Karel and I cheered on everyone we knew....and even those who were friends by association (in the triathlon world - we are all family).

There were many PR's on this perfect day but there are no guarantees with the Ironman. Just because a day is perfect, fast or the body is trained, you never know what will happen on that day. You may surprise yourself and you may get frustrated. But in the end - you must respect the body. There is nothing easy about not finishing a race so either you keep moving forward, and eventually find yourself at the finish line or find something within you that will light a fire to keep you coming back for more, even if you don't receive a finisher medal.


We had athletes who finished before 5 pm and athletes who finished after 9pm. It made for a long day but just like in an Ironman..it goes by really fast and you have to enjoy every mile (or in our case, every hour).


And I've learned from my expert spectator hubby that ice cream always makes spectating so much better. 


From 6:40am until 12:10am. We ran, we drove, we watched, Karel biked on the run course to cheer, Campy and I walked and we cheered.
 7 years ago, I crossed my very first finish line at IMFL. 


This year I was a spectator - cheering on my athletes and friends.
The energy was the same, the inspiration was there and my love for what the human body is capable of doing continues to grow.

I'm so proud of every athlete who gave the best effort possible at 2013 Ironman Florida - our friends from Jacksonville, the many athletes who let Karel service their bikes before the race, our friends from afar and those who we never met but looked amazing out on the course.

I'd like to take a moment to spotlight the amazing Trimarni athletes who were on the course....






Kerry Mowlam - 2nd age group (40-44), Kona ticket, 9:03 finishing time and 42nd overall (counting pros). We worked on your nutrition with a one-on-one session and tweaked a few things for better absorption of nutrition on the bike, using a gel flask on the run for easier consistent intake and an easier-to-digest pre training/racing snack. I couldn't be more excited for you and your attitude on race day was amazing - you never stopped having fun and it showed! Congrats!


JM Marchand - some people like to say "it wasn't your day". It's not easy when you don't finish a race and devote so much time, money and energy to get to the starting line. But JM - it was your day. Karel had worked with you for many months to lead up to this day and even though the cards (and a 2222 bib number) were not in your favor, this doesn't mean that we didn't gain a lot from this experience. There WILL be another race and I love that you are ready to tweak your nutrition as Karel and I know that your body was trained for this race. We loved seeing you out on the course, racing strong and refusing to give up until the body said enough. Even though you made it to mile 15 or so of the run, consider those extra unfinished miles motivation for next season...plus, I heard you have a 5K to run with your 8 year old daughter for Girls on the Run, next weekend so rest up!



Diane Murphy - Thank you for letting me share this IM journey with you by using the Trimarni race week and race day nutrition service. You NAILED your first IM and executed perfectly with a 10:51 finishing time and 11th age group (30-34). I'm so proud of your well-fueled body and for doing what you love for 140.6 miles. Enjoy your finisher medal!



Josh Griffin - When an athlete wants to be coached and has sights on a PR, we always tell our athletes not to chase a PR. But when your only IM was 12:50 with little structured training, we know there's plenty of room for improvement. Talk about sticking to a plan - in training and racing. After a few months of solid training with Karel and letting me formulate a custom INFINIT sport drink, you did exactly what you came to IMFL to do - execute. And your body did not let you down. 9:54:26 finishing time!!! We are so proud of you!



Maggie Crotty - You purchased the Trimarni 12-week Ironman pre built training plan with hopes to maintain balance and finish your first Ironman with quality over quantity training. We worked together with nutrition first, then tweaked training and I reviewed your files with your monthly pre-built plan phone calls and you dug deep on race day (with your boyfriend sharing the journey with you - way to go MATT!). 14:24 for your very first Ironman - WAY TO GO!!! We are so very proud of you and thank you for letting me share this exciting moment with you. 




Stefanie Swanger - This has been years in the making. I always believed in you but you did the work. Working full time, with a 14 month year old and a husband to give you unconditional love and support. You had an amazing team behind you but it was up to you on race day to make it all happen. I could not have been more proud of you for getting to that starting line but after 14 hours and 39 minutes of racing, you beat your goal time by 30 minutes and your body allowed you to do the incredible. 


Stefanie - you are the reason why I love what I get to do. Athletes like you who make no excuses and just do the work with goals in mind. You dream big and I love that. Thank you for letting Karel, Campy and I be part of your life and we are so incredibly proud of you. Keep dreaming big and I can't wait to see what you have in mind next.....