Confidence Gained! I am an Ironman 70.3 Finisher!
Confidence/noun – The feeling or belief that you can do something well or succeed at something/ a feeling or belief that someone or something is good or has the ability to succeed at something.
That Webster dictionary definition of confidence should be emblazoned on the Experience Triathlon website. It is the epitome of what the ET coaches instill in their athletes and sometimes certain athletes are lacking in this very attribute. It’s what any member of ET (coached or not) is going to gain by joining this team if they don’t already have it. If they have it, their confidence will only grow more. But by becoming a coached athlete and an ET club member, I had someone who truly believed I could do Ironman Racine 70.3 when at times I didn’t think I could AND I had an entire team to support the goal. The thoughts of, “My swim is too slow, I’m always at the back of the bike pack, my run isn’t getting any better and is too slow” were mantras in my head to not do Racine. Even if these things were true, it didn’t matter because my coach, Coach Chilly Pepper (Cathy Obordo), was still there saying I did a good job, I got it done, way to persevere. Working with her made me believe in myself and now I can say I completed an Ironman 70.3!
My journey to being coached by Chilly was signing up for the ET Batavia Triathlon in 2013. I had done my share of sprints and a couple of Olympic triathlons but had to sit out 2012 with torn cartilage in my knee. I was eager to get going last year and was in reasonable shape but there were only a few weeks before the race and all the on-line training guides assumed you’d be starting from day one. I needed something a little more challenging. So I inadvertently checked the box on the ET Batavia Triathlon registration form for someone to contact me about coaching. I thought to myself, no one is going to call. No one ever calls when you check those buttons. I talked to my then co-worker, now friend and proud ET member Amy H. to ask her about ET. I didn’t know she was a coached athlete and she showed me her online training plan workouts and how it all works. She then indicated that I would in fact be getting a call from Coach Joe. Sure enough, I got the call and Joe and I talked about my goals for the season and what I was looking for. Coach Joe paired me up with Coach Chilly Pepper and I couldn’t have asked for a better coach. It was a perfect match!
Coach Chilly’s enthusiasm was evident from Day 1 when we met at the local Starbucks. Got a big hug on our first meeting. We talked a lot about previous races, family life, goals and what I wanted to accomplish. It was a great first meeting. From then on, I executed the training. For 2013, I did well at ET Batavia, not so well at Lake Zurich (bad course signage but that’s for another blog) and did some other 10K races and half marathons. It was later in the winter after the racing season was done that Chilly and I met to discuss the 2014 season. I had never considered EVER doing a half Ironman but I read another ET athlete’s blog (Tanya L.) about her Racine experience and I thought to myself, “I don’t know the woman in this blog but it is so inspiring. I can do this race too.” So it was decided that I’d train for Racine.
The continued support from Coach Chilly really helped. She truly understood what was going on and where I was coming from in terms of getting a little worn out. It was her continued support, dedication to my training and enthusiasm that kept me going. For every workout comment I logged into the online training plan system, I’d eagerly await her enthusiastic email reply. It was extremely helpful. Confidence was slowly building! The ET training rides were a great way to build up the bike endurance and get some helpful gearing tips from Drew R. and Richard M. Thanks guys!!! Signed up for some charity rides and what I now noticed on these rides was that there are ET members everywhere! I rode the last 25 miles of the Geneva Swedish Days ride with an ET member who had on those very noticeable yellow and black shorts. It’s so reassuring to have that instant connection with a total stranger. That conversation always starts, “So you know Coach Joe?” The power of the yellow and black shouldn’t be underestimated.
Race week approached. I was getting so nervous. Chilly and I met a few weeks before just to lay out the race and luckily we were sitting outside and I had some huge sunglasses on because I’m sure she would’ve seen the fear in my eyes talking about this race. We met again two weeks before to go through the athlete guide and talk about every part of the race. Chilly’s dedication to her athletes is so apparent. She spent 2 hours with me going over the guide. One of the Starbucks patrons actually had to ask us what we were planning for and he was pretty impressed. We were equally impressed with him as he had starting riding again after a long time of inactivity. So Good For You Random Starbucks Guy!!! My biggest fear was the dreaded flat tire. I had tried to practice changing the tire on my bike but it was too much of a struggle. I couldn’t even break the bead to get the tire loose from the rim. Chilly made some suggestions and my husband/aka personal bike mechanic put some special anti-flat something or other in the tire. That’s going to have to do. I’m just going to have to ride and if something happens, do my best to change this thing and wait for support. Not the best plan, but it’d have to do.
Chilly’s dedication to her athletes was very apparent the night before the race, too. She had just flown back from Florida, drove all the way to Racine to meet with me at the hotel to do one last check in, drove all the way back to Gurnee for her hotel and then got up super early to meet me at transition before the race. Absolutely amazing! It was so encouraging to have that one last pep talk from her and to check in to make sure everything was going to go great.
Race day had arrived. First and foremost, this ET family is absolutely amazing. The general camaraderie, enjoyment in everyone’s successes and the encouragement you get from EVERY member of this team is fantastic. I couldn’t have completed the race without the team’s support. That ET Cheer Team really is World Famous.
The race was incredible! Everything went better than planned and I can attribute that to the training Chilly prepared for me and the spot on nutrition plan from ET team dietitian Laurie Schubert (although I haven’t looked at peanut butter since the race – there is a point when one can eat too much and I found that out on race day. Point #1 taken).
Swim was cold but you get used to the water. Coming out of the water I could hear Chilly and my husband yelling. It was pretty exciting. I couldn’t believe I had just swam 1.2 miles! During the swim, all I kept telling myself was Coach Suzy’s mantra, “Just Keep Swimming!” The bike went even better than I thought, faster 2nd half! But my bike took a beating on those Racine “roads” and the nervousness of getting a flat never really went away. But as I pulled into Bike In, there was my supportive coach, cheering as loud as anyone again! I heard her say I was ahead of the plan so that was great! Out on the run, I started off with Richard M. as we both passed by the ET tent. What a site that was! What struck me was the look on Coach Joe’s face of just admiration for his team of athletes. He just looked super proud. The run was 30 second pace slower than I wanted it to be and I walked more than I wanted to due to a nagging injury that sprung up again the week before. I did learn that one should really not dump copious amounts of water on their head at each aid station unless one likes running in sloshy socks. Point #2 taken. But coming in to the final stretch was an unbelievable feeling. The cheering from the ET crew was again overwhelming. Knowing I’d see everyone one last time got me running towards the finish. Confidence Gained!
I think Chilly was more excited for me than I was. It shows her true compassion and excitement for her athletes. All the time she takes to meet with you, train with you and get you prepared is invaluable. For that, I’ll be forever grateful.
I can now say, CONFIDENTLY: I am an Ironman 70.3 Finisher!
Enjoy all the photos from our great day at Ironman Racine on the ET Photo Gallery!