Submitted by Elite Race Team Member Izumi Yamashita
Due to Covid-19, so many races have been cancelled or postponed since early spring. I was signed up to compete Ironman Muncie 70.3 on 7/11/20 which seemed like it would happen. We received an email with new protocols to keep athletes and volunteers safe. They video showed us the changes they made including a sign up for bike drop-off so that they can control the number of athletes coming to the transition area the day before the race.
I was still not 100% convinced but started to believe this race might actually happen. But, 1 week before the race day, we received an email from Ironman that they had to cancel the race because the local county officials in Indiana decided to prohibit the race. It was very disappointing to say the least because I had such a positive attitude and hopeful outlook.
Instead of feeling deflated and defeated, my training buddies and I decided to do our own self-supported race. We put together the 1.2 mile swim, 56 miles bike and 13.1 mile run on familiar training grounds. We chose Red Top Mountain for the swim and Bud Plant in Cartersville, GA for bike and run starts. This was a perfect plan because we could feel confident in the routes and knowing we could count on help if we would need it.
We started at 8am on a beautiful morning. The lake was very calm and quiet. It was so nice to be relaxed with no rushing or jitters for a smooth swim.
After the swim, we changed and drove about 15 minutes to the Bud Plant for the bike start. We took time to make sure we have enough hydration and nutrition for 56 miles. It turned out to be quite a windy day but it kept us cooler. The ride was smooth with no incident.
I started my run about 1:30pm in the afternoon and the temperature was already up in 90s, so I poured water on my head and body, put an ice-cold towel around my neck, ate my nutrition and gulped down hydration with electrolyte and reluctantly started my journey. The route was a stretch of about 3 miles out and back. I had a handheld hydration bottle which holds about 12 oz of fluid, thinking would I refill once I get back to my car. My legs were feeling pretty good, so I started with a pretty good pace but I kept thinking I needed to pull back for 12 more miles, and the road had very little shade. I made back to my car with a pretty consistent pace but was feeling really hot. Before I went out for the 2nd loop, I repeated everything I did before the run start and I was off but this time it was way harder than the 1st loop. I needed more fluid, electrolytes and ice to cool me down but I did not realize it until I was at the end of the loop and I had to come back to my car. I was overheating so I walked for 2/3 mile so that I can pick up my run again. I was so happy when I saw a cooler my friend put out at about 10 miles! I gulped down a bottle of water in a second and put ice in my cap and chest. I felt like every cell of my body re-hydrated again and off I went for the last 3 miles which felt like an eternity. I was so excited when my Garmin clocked 13 miles to go just another 0.1 mile.
There were no finish line, no spectators, no catcher, no metal giver, just me hitting that button on my Garmin watch to finish my 70.3. There were plenty of times when I wanted to just quit during the run, but I was so happy and proud that I did not and completed what I started.
One by one, all 4 of us completed 70.3. All of us struggled during the run but we are so proud of each other. Just like any other races, we are now saying, “it was fun!” in spite of all of our struggles. It is indeed disappointing for the race to be cancelled, but we do not have to race to see how our training, race planning and coaching gets us stronger and faster than before.
The athletes I coach continue to train for their target races in spite of the uncertain times. When we have a target like a race, it is more motivating to do daily training even if we just don’t feel like it. It’s the routine that helps people feel connected to their goals. I make sure as a coach, my athletes stay consistent, avoid injuries and overtraining so they can be in their best shape not only for races, but for daily life. The goal for my athletes is to be in the best shape and know that they are much stronger physically and mentally. That, I believe, is never a waste but a building block for better, faster and healthier athletes.