Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Ironman Coeur d'Alene Race Report

Ironman Coeur d'Alene was a bittersweet day. My boyfriend, Chuck (many of you met him at camp in April and he is soon to be a Zooter) and I lost a close friend two weeks before the race. On June 9, 2009, a drunk driver killed two cyclists, Matt Edmonds and Christa Voss, in Tulsa, Oklahoma. One of the cyclists killed, Matt Edmonds, was a close friend of ours and the boyfriend of Chuck's sister. Christa, the other victim, was also a friend. Both were talented athletes and wonderful people. The Oklahoma cycling community and multisport community really came together during this tragic time. As a show of support, the community contributed to purchase Carmody, Chuck's sister, a plane ticket to travel with us to Idaho for the Ironman.

The days before arriving in Coeur d'Alene were emotionally and physically exhausting for us all. The funeral services for Matt and Christa were so incredibly heart breaking. Arriving in Coeur d'Alene on Thursday offered a breath of fresh air-it offered some respite from the immediacy of the tragedy and loss and we were able to get away from the suffocating Oklahoma summer heat and humidity. Friday and Saturday seemed to rush by and suddenly it was race morning. Ironman Coeur d'Alene had become an afterthought and it was not until the gun went off on race morning that I wrapped my mind around the task of doing an Ironman.

An Ironman is never pretty and never easy. Ironman Coeur d'Alene was no different. I struggled on the swim--having one of my slowest Ironman swims ever. The water was choppy and cold. I am not sure if I went off track or just swam slow--either way--I came out of the water with a lot of time to make up.

Prior to Ironman Coeur d'Alene, I had only ridden my bike on a road one time since Matt and Christa were killed. I was thankful for the fact that the Ironman ride was on closed roads with no worry about traffic or drunk drivers. I usually ride with power--holding specific watts on the flats/hills. But, from the get go, my powertap never worked. I was riding without benefit of time, distance, speed or power readouts. I did have my heart rate monitor so I just rode by heart rate and perceived effort. Haley Cooper had suggested that we drive the course but we never found the time to drive the course. Big mistake! It was a tough bike and I was glad to get off my bike and start the run.

The run was the coldest Ironman run I have ever done. I love racing in the heat---the hotter the better for me. The last hour of the run was in the rain which made things even colder. I was heading out for my second loop around the lake when I got to see Chuck heading to the finish! He had the biggest smile I have ever seen on his face! Seeing him finishing re-energized me and the last 10 miles really went by in a blur of rain and emotions. Chuck finished in 9:35 and was 6th in his age group (30-34). It was his first Ironman and he got a Kona slot. I finished an hour and a half later in 10:59--good enough for 4th in my age group (30-34) and a Kona slot.

The success of the day and our Kona qualifications were a bright spot in a time of saddness. We can get so caught up in our day to day lives that we forget to cherish what is truly important. Every day is a gift and an opportunity to give and receive love. In memory of Matt and Christa--RIDE ON. We miss you and love you.

Jennifer Johnson


  1. Wow...what an emotional day for you both. I'm going to take some extra time today and remind the people around me how much I care about them.

    Congrats on the Kona slots! I'm doing CDA next year, and I'm hoping for a similar result!

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