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A novel by Len Joy

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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

C'oeur d'Alene Ironman - The Morning After

                                          Len, Amy and Fernando BEFORE the race

I was really sore the morning after, so I delayed this report until the morning after the morning after. I feel much better today, but I try to avoid stairs. Or hills.

It was a great race. The weather was perfect: cool and cloudy on the swim and bike and sun and shade (and later moonlight) on the run. The crowds were very encouraging and they had 3,000 volunteers (for 2,800 competitors) to help us get through the day.

On the Friday before the race they had a mandatory athlete’s meeting to go over rules and provide information on the course. They also showed a video on the Ironman experience. I think it was targeted to those of us who were doing our first (only?) Ironman and to give us a mindset for approaching the race. Instead of focusing on the premier elite runners they emphasized the everyday athletes crossing the finish line in the dark, with supportive crowds cheering them on.

The tagline for the segment was “The only part of the race that you can control is your attitude.” I reminded myself of that many times during the event and it really did help.


It was a cool and cloudy morning. 2,700 competitors can really fill up a beach. I stayed at the back of the pack as we waded into the water figuring that there would be fewer people trying to swim over the top of me that way. But there were swimmers everywhere for the first mile. At least it was easy to follow the course (see positive attitude).

I finished the first lap (1.2 miles) in 43 minutes. The waves picked up on the second lap, but it was far less crowded and I was certain I swam that lap faster, but the current might have held me back as I got out of the water in 92 minutes. My “goal” had been to complete the swim in 90 minutes so I felt pretty good about that segment.

I had a sleeveless wetsuit and my arms were a little cold on the second lap and I started to worry that I might have some hypothermia issue if I got too cold, but then I thought about my friend Aurora Gore who swam the English channel w/o a wetsuit in 50 degree temperatures and decided I didn’t have anything to worry about.


My training mates Amy Shelly and Pam Rashid (along with my coach Craig Strong) constantly harangued (counseled?) me about taking in enough fluids and calories on the bike segment so that I didn’t get cramped up and dehydrated like I had in Galveston and Kentucky earlier in the year. I followed their advice and the weather cooperated by being cool so I didn’t sweat as much. But as a result I ended up stopping at three of the aid stations to use their port-a-johns and usually there was a line, so that cost me about two hours. Okay maybe more like ten minutes. And to be honest, I was glad to stop especially after some of those really really long hills.

We had a great view of the lake and the surrounding mountains, which I tried to appreciate. They looked a lot better to me on the downhill portions.

My goal on the bike had been to finish with fresh legs. I had figured I could do that and average 17 t o18 mph, but I ended up with an average speed of about 15 mph for the 112 miles. I was happy to get off the bike and pleased that I made it through the segment without any mishap like a dreaded flat tire. (I’m not too good at changing tires. The last one I had, Amy changed for me because I was taking too long.)


I had not realized they would have changing tents for us. That was a big plus as it allowed me to switch into running shorts and a comfortable running shirt. I felt good on the run. Well as good as was possible after that bike ride. Maybe I just felt good to be off the bike. My goal on the run was to run the whole course. And I did. It was a very slow pace (12:30 minutes per mile) but it was a run. I only walked through the aid stations. The crowds on the run were great. It really helped to have people encouraging us.


A great experience. Hearing the announcer say “Len Joy you are an Ironman!” was thrilling. I finished without tripping or stumbling and I think I might have been smiling. I felt good. And I think I could have run another ten or twenty feet maybe. My time was 15 hours and 17 minutes. I thought I would be finishing around 14 hours but I didn’t really have any idea as I had never run all these distances separately or together. I was very pleased with my performance and proud of all my training partners who were completing their first Ironman: Amy Shelley, Pam Rashid, Mo Schultz, Paul Hoban and Alicia Riggs. We all finished. Our coach Craig Strong of PM did a great job of getting us ready.

I am really glad it’s over. This morning I woke up at 4:30 AM and then I turned over and went back to sleep. That was fun.

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