Q&A With a First-Time Ironman Finisher

What Challenges Did You Face in Preparation for Achieving These Goals?

The biggest challenge I faced was time available to train. I had very limited windows of time, and those windows were constantly moving based on my work schedule, or the kids' nap schedules, or other commitments. I was never able to say "Every morning from 6 to 8, I'll swim/bike/run," or "Saturdays will always be my long rides and brick runs," because my wife could have needed help with the kids some mornings, or my work schedule would shift.

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What Were the Keys to Overcoming These Challenges? How Did You Succeed?

I got a coach. My coach was key for not just race tactics and workouts, but most importantly he was a time management expert. I would talk to him every Sunday night and present my schedule for the coming week. He would then tailor my workouts accordingly, like making my work travel days my "running days" where I could simply pack my shoes.

He would help me to restructure my week's worth of training if my job suddenly shifted, or the kids got sick and I had to miss a long ride, etc. As a result, I was able to be very consistent with my training from day one, and while it wasn't quantity, my training was definitely quality.

One other key is that I made each and every training session count. I would be 100 percent mentally focused on my task at hand, and block out everything else. Then when I was done with my training I would focus 100 percent on the other priorities in my life.

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What Was Race Day Like? How Did Your First Ironman Compare to What You Expected?

Race day was magical. Thanks to the preparation from my coach,I had no surprises on race day itself. It was just a matter of executing on my strategy of heart-rate management, fueling, and enjoying the day. I had a better than expected run, but that could have been because I was a bit too conservative on the bike. But if I was more aggressive on the bike I could have potentially blown up on the run—so all-in-all it was a perfectly executed day.

What Was the Most Unexpected Thing That Happpened to You?

The timing clock at the finish line flashed 12:01 for my time as I crossed. And while the first person that I saw was the lady who handed out the finisher medals, the second person that I saw as I crossed the finish line was my coach, who had snuck back into the area after his own race to greet me. That alone was unexpected, but even better was his smile when he told me that I broke 12 hours.

"How?" I asked in that post-race fog that we all experience. "Since this was a rolling swim start this year, you actually started 5 minutes after the official time—so your real time is 11:56."

While unexpected at the time, in hindsight it made sense. I had done the most with my training that I could—blending consistency with quality. I listened to every trick that my coach told me in terms of mental preparation, and I executed my race to the best of my abilities.

The result was my hitting both of my goals—a great race where I finished upright and strong, and breaking 12 hours.

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