||Ironman Coeur D'Alene 2007
Coeur D'Alene 2007 Ironman
by Tim Bomba
June 24, 2007 6:50 am. Coeur D'Alene Beach:
50,000 miles above me, looking down from the Heavens, is my Dad. Yet, I feel his presence as if he is standing next to me on the beach this morning. My dad, a collegiate swimmer, who spent so many frustrating hours trying to get me to appreciate his sport. Or even to get me to let go of the side of the pool.
I’m talking with him, alone (in my thoughts) on that beach. Oblivious to the other 2300 capped, walking wetsuits. I take a minute, lower my head, and thank him for everything he tried to do.
Then the cannon fires, and I’m in Ironman.
Dream Sequence #1 ... 2004: Betty Morin, who I met after we had finished a Century Ride, tells me “Anyone can do an Ironman. You just have to want to do it.” (I’m guessing she doesn’t remember this.) Thanks Betty.
Back to reality: We’re in the water. Now, five days prior to this, I had a wisdom tooth surgically extracted. On my right side. My breathing side. The side with the now swollen cheek. The side that’s exposed to flying elbows, feet, etc. So, I’m staying away from the shark fest that’s taking place ahead.
And unaware that a number of swimmers are being rescued from the water’s chop.
But I’m very comfortable. And that’s my goal for today. Stay comfortable, enjoy this experience, and finish. Finish with a smile.
Time does not matter. (Hold that thought.)
As I complete my second lap, I see the exit position, run past the amazing volunteers (3500 of them throughout the course), get helped out of the wetsuit, and, in a daze, head for my Bike Bag and the changing tent. As I’m not yet fast in the water, finding my bike is an easy task. There usually aren’t many left in transition. Today is no exception.
Again, more of these great volunteers directing me/us out of transition, and onto the bike course. Now ……. I’m riding. But, as this is my first Ironman, I’m holding back on the bike a bit. Plenty of time later to kick, if I can.
And, in the midst of the turmoil, the excitement, and the surrealism, is normalcy. Konrad Ribeiro is there along the road cheering. Yeah ……. Konrad. Just as if we were in Santa Monica. No different.
Los Angeles is well represented, both on and off the course.
We ride through, and then out of, town. On to the back roads, and over a few hills. Perhaps, in concept, a boring ride. But, not with this scenery. Jennifer Kramer , who I meet up with at a bike aid station, remarks that the cows are mooing. (Something you don’t hear when passing by in a car. Or, it seems, growing up in Los Angeles.)
The thousands of residents that have set up tables and chairs, and tents, and TV’s, etc. along this bike course, give the sense that we’re on a weekend party-ride. Which , actually … we are. Michael Keeley's family has set up a mobile camp along the entire Ironman course. They cheer for 1) Michael and his friends, 2) All Canadians, and 3) every racer they see on the course.
There’s Konrad again. Along the route. And more amazing volunteers at the bike aid stations. (I swear, I’m going to volunteer at more races just for the support I can offer to the racers.)
Dream sequence #2: Christmas 2006: Ursula Bowling’s Christmas card inscription comes to mind, “May you become the Ironman that you’ve always had inside.”
Coming into the last mile of the bike, I start to pedal standing up. Trying to get my legs ready to run. Thinking, as a marathoner, the run is the one area that I can best evaluate how I’m doing, and when I can kick it.
Into transition #2, and the changing tent. Running shoes/shorts on, and I’m out there.
Miles 1-13 are going relatively calm. Easy. Just keep it regulated, Tim.
And ……… there’s Konrad again.
Course Special: Ironman allows racers and their supporters, families, etc. to put up encouraging 3X3 foot signs along the route. The running pace allows us to actually read these signs. In addition to the usual, ‘Go Ironman Joe’, and ‘You can do this, Ellen’, was this sign:
"Honey, I’m pregnant”.
Know that every guy racing freaked at this point.
Then, around mile 15, it hits. That feeling when your stomach demands fuel, yet it won’t allow you to keep it down.
Okay, I’m walking a bit. Humbled.
Dream Sequence #3: Oliver Martin wrote me, “no matter what, keep moving forward. Just keep ….. moving ……. forward.”
The key to life. Thanks Oliver.
I’m picking it back up around mile 20, and somehow manage a pseudo-sprint down the main street for the last half-mile. Smiling. Grinning, actually. (Which is easy to do, when you haven’t been pushing too hard.)
Just before the finish line, I once again look up to the heavens, now a dark evening sky, and acknowledge my Dad.
Next, the Finish Line. “You’re an Ironman”.
Then, oddly, an amazing sense of calm. Which has remained with me since crossing that finish line.
Personal note: I don’t know when I’ll do another Ironman. But, getting this far would not have happened without the support and friendship of Liz Kollar and the Ya-Ya’s, all the Ocean Park am swimmers, Steve Herbert, Michael Lee (who could be a great swim coach), Ian Murray who helped me bring it together, 'Friends in Need' Brian Morri and Nancy Schultz, former member Nick Downey, the guys at Phidippedes Running Store ....... and so many others.
******* W. Clement Stone wrote: "Be careful the friends you choose for you will become like them." I could not imagine a better group of friends than the members of this club.