I am Ironman
With August hear, the Ironman group’s training has increase dramatically. With only a few short weeks to go, they will be putting in several 100 mile rides, ocean swims, early morning runs and yoga to help keep them injury free. With the support of a great team of athletes training with him and cheering him on, Anthony Tatasciore was the first of the lululemon group to cross an Ironman line June 23rd at Coeur D’ Alene. Below is his account of the day
My experience with Ironman Coeur D’Alene By Anthony Tatasciore
The Ironman race is more than just race day. The Thursday before the race is packet pick up. With packet pick up you, receive your swim cap, five colored bags, stickers for your bike and bags, 2 numbered bibs, and the all-important timing chip. When I returned to my room, I took all bags out and started to organize my gear in to the appropriate bags. Major tip is to decorate your bags so you can find them with ease on race day.
The following day consisted of a morning swim in the 60-degree water and then a short 20-mile bike ride to get familiar with the course. Later in the day is an athlete’s apperception dinner followed by a mandatory athlete brief that reviews the course and all of the rules. Saturday morning started with another short swim to get use to the water temperature again, followed by a short 7-mile run to see if the altitude is going to be a problem, which it was not. Now is time to gather up my T1 and T2 bags and drop of the bike. My bike was the photographed for security reasons as I entered the bike drop off section then I took my bags to the T1 and T2 sections. Then I was off to get a good meal and to bed early.
Race day started around 4am getting a quick bite to eat and gathered up my special needs bags. As we got to the race village there were already athletes getting ready, and Ironman staff making the final touchups to the course. As I was putting on my wetsuit, my heart rate started to rise. Mike Reilly was pumping up the athletes getting us ready for the swim start. With the new swim start, athletes were to place themselves in the section where they expected to finish the swim. I placed myself with the 1:45 group. Promptly at 6:35, the cannon went off and the race was on. Thirteen minutes later, I was in the water off to the first buoy. Coeur D’Alene swim is two laps of the 1.2-mile course. I completed the swim is just over 1:20 mins. This is the point where the volunteer help started. As I was making my way to T1 there was a volunteer already unzipping my wet suit taking me over to the “wet suit strippers”, they laid me down and two seconds later, the wet suit that took me five minutes to put on was off. Before I was off the ground, another volunteer already had my T1 bag and a bottle of water for me. The volunteers in the T1 tent were on the ball. As I was using my stick roller on my calf’s and shoulders, one of the volunteers was already putting my helmet, sunglasses, socks and shoes. It was like being a NASCAR car in the pits. Next up were the sunscreen helpers, within just a few seconds they had all visible skin parts covered in sunblock. Then made my way to the bike pickup and there was a volunteer already with my bike out ready for me to just pick up and go.
The bike course is two laps of a 56-mile course. The first couple of miles of the course go through downtown Coeur D’Alene that was already lined with hundreds of supporters. We went through the town four times one our way to the hills and mountains. The course goes around both side of the lake, on one side the hills were steep but only about 1.5 miles long before you were going up to the next hill. One the opposite side the hills never ended. This side of the lake has one hill that is a 6+% grade. Going up the hill seemed like it would never end. Going down the hill, I hit speeds I never thought I would hit on a bike, 45MPH. When I hit the bike special needs bag area I have to say I stopped and enjoyed my peanut butter and jelly sandwich, even helped the volunteers get a few bags for the bikers coming through. Then I was on to my final lap.
When I was finishing the bike portion and coming in to the dismount area there was just a ton of people cheering everyone on. The volunteers as the dismount area took my bike and helped me as I got my legs back under me. Once again, the transition tent was awesome. As I sat down one of the volunteers started to massage my shoulders as another was getting all the stuff out of my bag. On the way out, I forgot my hydration belt and one of the volunteers chased me down to give it to me.
By this time, my legs were Jell-O. The run course is a two-lap course along the same beginning portion of the bike course including the hills. Normal marathon time is around 4:30 hours, I knew that was impossible at this time. Therefore, I began to do the run/walk method. During the run, I found out that chicken broth was my friend; it gave me the salts and warmth I needed. The aid stations were all dressed up with different themes. There was not a point of the course when you are running through the housing sections that you did not hear some type of support. There was even a house having a dance/karaoke party for the runners. Towards the end of the first loop, I went to pick up my special needs bag that had another peanut butter and jelly sandwich, but this time I was having a difficult time chewing. As night started to fall, the aid stations started to pass out the glow necklaces to identify the runners on the dark course. Making my way to the turnaround point of the second lap I could hear from across the lake Mike Reilly pumping up the crowd and screaming “YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!” This is just what I needed to get me pumped. From this point on, I knew that I was going to make it. I made the cut-off time at the turnaround and knew that I was going to run all the way back. With only 1.5 miles, left there was a volunteer directing us to the final stretch and had a practice finish line so we could practice our finish line poses. From there I turned down Sherman Ave, which was lined with 44,000+ people every one of them cheering the runners on. The finish line was in the distance. The music was pumping. My little shuffle turned in to an all-out sprint. When I crossed that finish line, Mike Reilly declared to the world, “ANTHONY TATASCIORE of JACKSONVILLE FL, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!” At that point, I fell in to the arms of my wife and kids who were all volunteering at the finish line. From here on out it became a blur, between the official photographers, the medical tent, the massage tent, and the food.
Way to go Anthony! Myself and the rest of Jacksonville could not be any prouder of you. The rest of your teammates will anxiously be awaiting that same finish line moment of their own on August 25th.