Yes, friends, It’s IRONMAN race report time! Which means it’s three post, keep ya hanging, time. Of course you all know the end result. Kona Kona Kona! But life is all about the journey and I know you want to hear the details of what was a pretty wild journey.

Before I get into it. I just have to thank all the new faces that I met out there this weekend. You became my Iron-family. New York, Punk Rock, Smelly, Chris, Goofy, you all know who you are. I loved meeting you and being a small part of your experiences. Good times!

Also, Troy, you are a rock star. I love you to death, baby. Your cheers were BOOMING and I heard them all. Thanks for tending to the munchkin, and thanks for being the hot-to-trot hubby that you are. Mom and Dad are always so supportive. All the pictures are taken by my dad and there are some great ones!

My sponsors are the best evah, my goods worked well, I did not bonk, and I will be sending each of them sand from KONA!

Finally, Chuckie! I asked if he thought he could train me to get to Kona and he said yes. 6 months later I’m sitting here with a Kona slot. Thank you coach.

Annie armed with her vuvuzela!

Well, here we go folks. Have you ever swam 2.4 miles with 2200 other friends?

Ironman morning is pure magic. With 900 Iron-virgins in the field of 2200 the anticipation and nerves is tangible. And it’s not just the newbies, I myself was quite nervous. I was more nervous than IM Canada and I kept telling myself, “Sonja, it’s just a really long day, no need to get nervous” But I couldn’t help it. How do you make nerves go away when they are…just there. The nerves hit the night before and lasted until the minute the start cannon went off. I tried distraction. I tried rationalization.

I had decided to line up on the right side of the start line, similar to Canada but for a counter clockwise loop. Wow! I’m not sure if there was any safe place to line up but clearly my spot was no bueno. Right from the cannon I was getting hit, kicked, swam over, swam under, you name it. There were bodies everywhere and they just didn’t let up. I would poke my head out to look for some open space and there just wasn’t any. I understood for the first time how people feel when they think they are going to die in an Ironman swim. It’s scary. I’m swallowing water, and there is a chop out on the lake to add to it. I couldn’t swim the line I was anticipating, I became just one of the masses. Getting boxed in was the hard part because you had nowhere to go. What can you do?

So I put my nose down and I battled through it. I arrived at the first turn buoy to see hundreds of my closest friends right there with me, trying to turn around a buoy. There was no space, people were completely stopped, like someone was herding cattle. It was insanity. I finally managed to climb my way around that buoy only to be confronted with another turn buoy not 100 yards away. Again, salmon spawning, or possibly sardines swimming in a pack is what we all looked like trying to get around that buoy. For the way back I actually went to the inside of the buoys and was able to find some space and some challenging feet. I stuck to those feet like glue, trying hard not to lose them.

The swim at Ironman Coeur d’Alene is a two loop course. I exited the water on those fast feet and glanced at my watch while running over the timing mat. 32:30. Sweet! I just wanted to keep that up. Before I dove back in for loop #2 I glanced at all the people in the water ahead of me. There were a lot of them. But in I went, ready for another dose. I expected to have less body contact this lap and it was slightly better, but not much. I encountered an odd phenomenon that happened several times. I would find myself a nice set of feet to hop onto, I’de be swimming along and then BOOM, someone would come from the side and body slam me off the feet. What the? It was odd, happened three times. I wanted to fight back, but I just swam on and found another set of feet.

Another highlight was when I felt somebody on my feet. No bigee, like I’ve said before “Join the party”. But this person had not cut their nails and they repeatedly scratched the bottom of my feet. Ouch! I was hoping that wouldn’t come back to haunt me.

The second lap we experienced much rougher water. The chop had increased quite a bit and it felt like a boat had driven very close to you very fast. It had most of us tumbling sideways and only breathing to our right. I got motion sickness for the first time ever in the water. The two mix1’s I had that morning kept coming up into my mouth. Finally, up it came and I threw up in the water. And oddly, this didn’t really phase me. It seemed like something that could obviously happen and I puked and swam on. I did worry a little that my tummy would still be upset on the bike because of it, but those thoughts were momentary. Typing all that right now makes me feel hard core.

The turn buoys on the second lap were just as evil as the first with kicks to the head, stomach, and back. I was happy to clear the last one and put in one last solid effort to get out of the water. Checking my watch after running up to the timing maps I saw 1:07. I was stoked for that since it was 2 minutes faster than my peaceful IM Canada swim and this swim was CRAZY. Baby steps Sonja. I think there is even more in me with the swim, but IM swims are never easy so you have to assume some adversity will come along.

I’m actually glad that I experienced an Ironman swim like this. While it seems like it was harrowing and epic, the truth is that 2200 of us went through it. Everyone had to deal with pretty wild conditions, and what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Now I know that I don’t have to fear a crazy swim, I can keep my cool, puke up my breakfast, and exit the water with a smile on my face and a PR. Which is exactly what I did. Would you expect anything else from me?

Running out of the water the crowd was awesome, they were cheering so loud you could barely hear yourself think. I ran up to this sweet looking girl of a wetsuit stripper. I already had my DeSoto top, goggles and cap off. I try to pick a calm looking stripper, and I thought that I had. Then her partner emerged and instantly and aggressively ripped my suit off. Hmm, not exactly what I was going for. I wanted to tell him “Be Gentle”. In a jiffy I was up and running to the change tent. I try to keep my transitions quick and I was well prepared for a quick one. I keep a spare pair of contacts in my swim to bike bag just in case I lose one in the swim. Other than that I put everything in the bag on and I get out of there. I grabbed my bike and mounted it, seeing 1 hour and 10 minutes on the race clock.

Boo Ya, let’s get this party started!

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Cycling, Family, Ironman, Race Report, Swimming, Travel, Triathlon


  1. OMG, I can’t imagine what it was like for the guy BEHIND you when you puked. If someone pukes next year, I hope it’s me :)

    This gives me butterflies just reading. You are way hardcore. I will try to keep up :)

  2. Never tell your strippers to be gentle!
    I heard a story once of a chain reaction swim puke like Stand By Me. I still cringe and laugh. I’d have had a hard time not looking back for carnage. Well done.

  3. “It seemed like something that could obviously happen and I puked and swam on.”

    Yes Sonja, you are hard core! Love the report, every IMCD report I have read spoke of similar battles in the water. Congrats!

  4. Holy cow, you ARE hardcore to puke during the swim and still finish in 1:07! That blows my mind! Were you not freezing when you got out? I’m excited to read the rest!

  5. Great job… it was fun to see you out there and cheer for you. I spilled all over my Trakkers shirt earlier in the day, so likely you didn’t recognize me. My crew was the one on the bike and run with the huge sound set-up. :) You might have wondered how my husband got all your Moab stats! Anyway, you looked amazing, strong, and consistent all day. Way to represent girl!

  6. wow – IMCdA is quasi on my bucket list, but I think it will be many years of swim practice before I could handle that.
    Way to keep your cool and stay in your race – and PR!

  7. Wow. That’s what’s scary about swimming with others for me – I really like to be in control. You are awesome!

  8. You are hard core! I cannot even begin to imagine throwing up on the swim and to be kicked and brutalized the whole time. WOW!!!!

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