My First Half Ironmanby Peggy Oreskovich, July 2014
So, I was asked to write about my experience of competing in my first Ironman 70.3; however, before I begin I want to confess that I was hesitant because there are so many talented triathletes in Pueblo that have not only done numerous half Ironmans, but even done numerous full Ironmans! I hope to join that group one day! So competing in my first half Ironman was a step towards that goal.
I won’t bore you all with a description of my training; I think we all know the incredible amount of hours it takes to train for a multi-sport event like a half Ironman. I will, however, describe how generous I found other seasoned triathletes were with advice, tips and encouragement! I trained with Stacey Diaz and Carrie Franchi who both competed in the Boulder Half Ironman last year. They were always answering my questions and calming my nerves as the race got closer by the month. Dave Diaz was also a huge help with advice on how to prepare, what to pack and what to expect, as he not only competed in the half Ironman last year, but has also done a full Ironman. Then there were the SoCo T2 Multi-sport clinics hosted by Gwen Steves and Michael Orendorff where I learned how to mount and dismount my bike like the pros do – I did practice and was able to successfully use this technique in the race. Another of the clinics taught a valuable lesson on how to set up a transition area for fast, efficient transitions.
In May we went to an open-water swim at Grant Ranch in Denver where many of the SoCo T2 members were participating. The open-water swim was the most intimidating part of the half Ironman for me and overcoming the fear and building my confidence in the swim was probably the most important aspect of my training. The water that morning was cold and when I first started off I felt like I couldn’t catch my breath; I started to panic for a minute and thought I was not going to be able to do it. I held on to a buoy from one of the support kayaks and tried to calm down. After a minute I decided to just start swimming one stroke at a time and concentrate on relaxing; before I knew it I had finished the first loop. I was then able to complete my planned mile and a half. On a personal note, I really felt honored to be swimming alongside of so many of those talented triathletes – ok…. more like swimming behind those talented triathletes, but still, it was a great feeling and just the boost of confidence that I needed!
Fast forward to June 15, the day I was excited and scared for all at the same time! Gathering on the beach with other Tri Club members and having other triathletes giving me encouragement and advice really helped to keep my nerves in check. The best encouragement, or at least the funniest piece of encouragement, was from Gary Franchi. Gary’s heartfelt message was to tell me, “If I could do this, you can do this!” Thanks Gary, that did help!
Well, I had imagined over and over again what it was going to feel like to cross that finish line and the moment was just as good as I had imagined! There’s such a rush and a feeling of accomplishment! The moral of this story, however, is that it is not just the accomplishment, but the sense of feeling like a part of a community (Ok, I am about to get corny here, so I apologize ahead of time). The Tri Club is made up of people who I really admire, not just for their toughness and talent, but also for their spirit of generosity – it was cool to feel like a part of that! Also, being able to train with good friends sure makes those tough training events easier! Being able to share the misery and sense of achievement during training (and food afterwards) makes training for and participating in these events that much more meaningful and fun! So, thank you all who trained alongside me, encouraged me, inspired me, taught me, gave me advice and made me laugh! I look forward to more!!!