It still doesn’t seem like that’s me - Ironman Coeur D’Alene Champion! I only slept a few hours after the race and when I woke up I had to make sure it was true - looking at the photos from the paper to believe it. I thought just finishing an Ironman was an adrenaline rush. Let me tell you - winning one takes it to another level. In my finish-line interview, I told the crowd it was such an awesome feeling that everyone needed to win one!
For me, winning Ironman Coeur D’Alene was about chasing your dreams.
In January my coach, Matt Dixon and I set out a crystal clear path of where I want to go in the next 2-3 years. For this year, a dream was to come to Coeur D’Alene, win my first Ironman, and set a new course record. Along this journey I have doubted but I have come to learn, Matt is always right (darn it!). On Sunday, all of this happened. Finding a dream, following the journey and having the courage to chase it, and then having it happen just might be the best feeling on earth!
There are a few things that make winning an Ironman so awesome but a highlight for me included sharing the day with so many friends & training partners, my mom & dad, Chris Corbin, the Hutter family, Meredith Kessler, and many of my sponsors. Race week in Coeur D’Alene was effortless. The Hutter family made me (and my family and friends) feel right at home. They made sure I was always smiling…. Headed into the race I was feeling relaxed and ready for fun!
Race morning came and into the Xterra Vendetta I went. The swim start was the usual panic-y blur until we all sorted ourselves out. I found a nice draft after missing a few feet that would have been nice to swim with. At the turn buoy I realized the nice draft was provided by my friend and training partner and also the fastest dentist in the pro field, Adam Jensen. Onto loop #2 and Desiree Ficker pushed a hard pace that got us to shore in about an hour. It could have been faster, but it could have been much slower as the chop was thick in Lake Coeur D’Alene.
I knew Ironman is a long day, and my swim would only compromise a small part of my race - so onto my racing bike I went. I was happy to hear that although my swim was slow, my defecit to the lead of the race was not too far - 6 minutes or so. The early miles of the ride just ticked away and I felt right at home on my Scott bike. SRAM, Zipp and FSA made sure things were mechanically turning over and I was cutting more and more time into the lead.
At mile 40 of the bike, I took the lead for the first time ever in an Ironman. I was grinning from ear-to-ear as my dream was becoming my reality. Reality set in though as I had no clue what to do in first place (other than ride my bike as best as I could!). Riding through town in first place was huge. The crowd went nutty and I had to remember to play my Ironman patience cards right: eat every 20 minutes, take salt tabs on the hour, don’t blow my pacing.
Out onto loop #2 of the bike and into the hilly section I went. Meredith Kessler powered up one of the hills and passed me in amazing fashion. I had to let her go as I stuck to my race day plan. I really felt I biked within my means, even-splitting both loops of the bike and putting up the fastest bike split of the day. Yes, the Scott Plasma is smoking fast.
Which could be saved for an entire other race report would be my amazing cheer squad that spectated the race. The Chris & Chloe show bee-bopping around on Sue’s scooter. Super mom doing jumping jacks on each corner. The Missoula crew that amazingly popped out and up on every climb, corner, and hill donning cowbells, cowboy hats, and I can’t forget Ben Horan, who was nice enough to run alongside me with a yellow umbrella to provide shade at one point during the bike - it cracked me up!
Next up it was out onto the run course with Meredith leading the charge, myself in second and amazing runners behind me. I found my rhythm, took care of myself nutritionally, and ticked away the miles. At first I wasn’t cutting much into the lead and I just kept reminding myself to be patient and thinking how cool my neon-orange Saucony Kinvara running shoes were. Into town at the half way point and my marathon legs came good. I never run off a pace or GPS - its always been off feel. Tick, tick, tick away I went. Now that I was half-way through the run I was onto the cola the aid stations were offering, so tasty!!
Earlier this year, my long-distance training partner (we share the same coach) and good friend, Meredith Kessler and I exchanged a few emails. Wouldn’t it be cool to go to Ironman Coeur D’Alene and deliver a 1-2 punch!?! One can always, dream - right? On Sunday, while racing in second place, I passed Meredith (although she was hiding out in the porta john!) at mile 17 of the marathon. Our dream was about to become a reality. We both plugged away the last hour of the race, and if you could see sheer joy and excitement we shared at the finish, you would have to wonder where all this extra energy came from!?!
The last few miles of the race was all about digging deep. I was soooooo close to my goal finishing time of 9 hours and 15 minutes. My legs were in a world of hurt and it was a give-and-take of making deals with myself. The crowd support got me to Sherman Avenue where I knew my cowboy hat was waiting.
You will notice there is only one photo from the day attached, and that is my finish line photo. I can only hope that it properly portrays the sheer joy, gratitude, amazement and genuine happiness I felt when I crossed that finish-line in a record setting time of 9 hours and 17 minutes on Sunday.
A special thank you to mom and dad - its not every day your parents get to watch you win an Ironman. And then there is Chris Corbin. Chris has taught me that the sky is the limit and to be relentless in all you do. I wouldn’t be an Ironman Champion if it weren’t for my amazing support network: Chris, family, friends, Matt Dixon, sponsors and all of you.
I wish you all the best. Follow your dreams and never give up!
PS - Stay tuned as later this week I will post about why Coeur D’Alene is such a special place for me. Race week memories!!