I always enjoy the IMC week but this year was especially exciting. I don't think I've had so many athletes to cheer for in all the years I've been going there. We only formed Mercury Rising earlier this year but we ended up with seventeen athletes competing – four of whom I personally coach and many more I have worked with in one capacity or another – add to that the pile of friends and associates out there and it seemed like every 2nd person going by deserved an extra cheer from me!
Sara and I spent the week tenting it. She's wasn't racing, due to her current medical condition so we spent our days chatting with nervous athletes and getting in the occasional run. The winds were high all week and I was getting pretty concerned for one of my athletes in particular. Normally winds wouldn't bother me in the least - the playing field is the same for everyone – rain, sun or cold, but 73 year old Evan Fagen had failed to make the bike cut-off in several of his last tries. I began working with him about 8 months ago as he was planning another stab at an Ironman in Coeur D'Alene this past June. He worked as hard as any of my athletes but a windy hot day (and a bit of a relaxed transition) resulted in Evan missing the cut-off by 2 minutes. It was a heart breaking moment for me. I, and many of Evan's friends urged him to give it another try at Ironman Canada. He was unsure at first. The disappointment was keen and to put yourself in that situation again so soon would require a certain amount of fortitude – pair that with the fact that the race was full. But I felt confident race director Joe Dixon would make room for Evan given his situation. An email from Evan verified my confidence. Joe opened a spot and Evan was on the list.
Now with the seemingly unending winds in the days leading up to the race I was beginning to think I may have set Evan up for another disappointment.
My three other athletes were Rachel Kiers, James “Matty” Fry and Miranda Alldritt.
James race was almost predetermined for him. He suffered a terrible injury when a pallet fell on his leg in January. We spent most of the year working around that injury – then to make matters worse his hamstring elected to fail on him about a month ago just when things were starting to come about good. There weren't many run miles in his legs but we figured the race would be a good learning experience. I was just hoping he wouldn't learn too much about excruciating pain.
James ran well, looking great in his matching shoes!
Both Rachel and Miranda were fit and were racing in one of the deeper fields I've seen for the pro women in a few years – though it's been many years since Canada offered a cherry pick.
The day started out great with strong swims by all – especially Evan! In CD'A he'd gotten out of the water and on the bike in 2 hours. This time he was 8K out of town in an hour and forty!!
But winds, rain, hail and at times heat slapped many out there.
In the end Rachel delivered a solid 10:06 and finished 10th. I know she can go substantially faster but the day was a tough one!
Coaching Rachel on the run course.
Miranda had a rough one. I tried to talk her into walking off the course as she was having breathing problems but she was determined not to DNF – and she didn't.
Miranda heads out on the bike.
James actually exceeded my expectations (that rarely happens) when he strolled in with a 9:55. This young man has a long ways to go before he reaches his potential.
The bike cut-off time at IMC was 5:30. I headed over there at 5 and waited for Evan – and waited and waited. 5:30 rolled by and no Evan. I was crushed. By the time it was 6 o'clock I was seriously worried. Then a young woman working the transition thought it might be worth a look at his bike spot – of course his bike was there. I'd missed him by almost an hour!
Evan ended up finishing in 15:41. A great race! I met him out on Main st when he had 2k to go and ran with him for a few steps. He was all smiles. “I had a good swim and bike, Coach – but I'm not running very well.” He was 73 and running – I thought that was pretty good. He ended up 3rd in his age group – tough crowd!!
Evan in 3rd place on the right!
Seeing all the Mercury Rising kits out there was a load of fun! And standing at the finish line as friend after friend came in dulled the cold that descended on us all as soon as the sun set.
Of special note for me were the performances of Island Tri's Dominic Bergeron and Ryan Pasta – both 1st timers who both had great races.
Rachel's husband Mike Kiers managed to go 11:37 while working 1300 hours a week! It was a first time for him and I'm confident he could really rip one up out there if he ever trained more than 6 hours a week!
Good friend Dan Smith from Lifesport delivered a 9:50 and was 2nd in the 45-49 AG.
This was also the first time Steven Kilshaw came close to really performing as I know he's capable. He delivered a 9:17 and was still smiling when I saw him 5 miles from the finish. Some fine tuning and that boy is going to turn some heads.
Adrian Walton, a strong age grouper who swims in my morning masters group also had a strong race and will be off to Kona in 5 weeks.
And of course my friends Heather and Trevor Wurtele both had great races. It was nice to see that and catch up with them the next day over a nice cup of coffee at Smith and Co.
I know I will have missed a few here – oh yeah Scott Curry had a good one as well! There was just too many to keep track of!!
You'll read about the other Mercury athletes in the other coaches updates but we had a 100% finishing rate. It's going to be hard to improve on that but I have no doubt that the future for Mercury Rising is looking great!!