Ironman Day Ironman

07/27/2015 » Lake Placid, NY, Whistler, Canada » Event Website

Yesterday was an amazing day of Ironman racing for several members of the Migonis Multisport team.  Four athletes raced in Lake Placid, while one other raced in Western Canada.  Lake Placid saw temps tap out in the mid to upper 80’s with a lot of sun, while Canada (Whistler) saw temps that barely got out of the upper 50’s and a lot of rain.  There is roughly 3,000 miles in-between the two race venues, but yesterday proved that an Ironman in the Adirondack Mountains and an Ironman in Whistler Canada are both extremely hilly, difficult and both physically and mentally draining.  Heck it’s an Ironman any way you slice it, and for the five individuals who I so proudly coach, it was a day they will not soon forget.

Matt Ryan’s race at Whistler marked his first Ironman finish.  The weeks leading up to the race saw some extreme heat and we both admitted we were a little worried that race day would be extra tough if the conditions stayed the way they were for the next week.  We planned and Matt trained with the thought that race day may be a warm one.  Three days before the race the temps were in the 70’s and race day was calling for cold weather with rain.  A total 180 from the two weeks before.  Instead of trying to combat the heat Matt would be trying to stay warm in the fall like conditions.  Matt fought through all of the bad weather, the fear of crashing and/or freezing and the pain that an Ironman brings to finish in an amazing 140.6 mile debut of 11:41:52.  His time was good enough for 248 overall in a stacked field, which included a large number of professional athletes.  This result really shows just how far Matt has come since September when his training began and in my mind I don’t think this will be the last time we see Matt racing an Ironman.

While Matt was racing his first Ironman in Whistler, Ryan Meek was racing his first Ironman in Lake Placid.  Coming into the race I knew Ryan had the potential to do something special.  While at times the past nine months he wasn’t able to get in all of the training he had hoped for one reason or another, his race results this season showed that he was strong.  The results also showed that when his back is against the wall, Ryan finds a way to produce an amazing race effort.  He battled the heat and a stiff back to finish in 11:52:44 which was good enough for 323 overall on the day.  When describing how Ryan looked throughout the race I cannot use a better analogy than “he looked like a machine!”  He just kept moving forward and powering through the heat and hills.  A real test of character and a test he passed with flying colors.  Like Matt, I don’t think this will be Ryan’s final Ironman distance race.

Emily Zipprich was the third athlete on the team that was racing Ironman for the first time on Sunday.  Emily has improved by leaps and bounds this season so we were all anticipating a great race from her.  She did not disappoint.  Even with crashing on the bike and having to fight through the self-doubts that an Ironman can force on you, Emily gathered herself and finished strong and with a smile.  Her time of 12:44:43 was 626th place on the day in a field of nearly 2,000 athletes.  She was quick to say that this was the hardest thing she’s ever done and she wasn’t going to do another one anytime soon, but like Matt and Ryan, I would be very surprised if we didn’t see Emily racing Ironman again within the next three years.

Nick Tucci was racing his second Lake Placid Ironman yesterday and much like his first, he was going into the race with the goal of surviving.  However, this time around he wasn’t trying to survive because of lack of fitness, he was trying to survive because it was only his third run of over 30 minutes in the past two and a half months.  Nick was diagnosed with a stress fracture in his pelvis nine weeks ago, and while we feared that that meant the end of his season, Nick said he wanted to press on and do whatever he could on the bike and swim to get ready for Ironman.  He was fully aware that he would have to deal with a tremendous amount of pain on the run and would mostly likely have to do a good deal of walking.  He didn’t care and that shows Nick’s true character.  He’s a fighter and doesn’t give-up.  His first Ironman was 14 hours long.  With one lap of the run reaming I told him he had nearly three hours to break that time.  Once he heard that he felt better and found another gear.  Nick crossed the finish line in 13:28:44, 957 place on the day.  His race shows how determination and grit can get you through anything, no matter how painful.

Jamie Campbell has raced many Ironman events and has seen his share of weird things.  However, yesterday for the first time he nearly crashed on the bike after being cut off by another athlete.  To keep himself from going down, he quickly tried to get his foot out of the pedal.  This sudden hard jolt tweaked his meniscus and shot a great deal of pain through his leg.  Enough pain that he was forced to walk most of the run.  His time of 14:14:10 may not look like an impressive time for someone of his triathlon ability, but if you were able to witness the pain and hurt in his eyes while he was essentially having to hop for 26.2 miles, you would have been impressed.  Bravo to Jamie for making it through.

It was a magical day on both sides of North America and a day where I can proudly say that helping these individuals achieve their dreams has been one of the biggest thrills of my life. Their times don’t mean to me what their effort, fight and determination to not quit does.  They all had rough patches, but they all kept their eyes on the prize and wouldn’t let Ironman beat them.  I’m so very proud of these five individuals for giving everything they could yesterday.  Whether it was their first, second or fifth Ironman finish, Matt, Ryan, Emily, Nick and Jamie can say, “I am an Ironman!”

See you next year!!!!