D3′s IM Boulder athletes made a lasting impression on the coaches as well as the other athletes and spectators. And two of them had experiences we are proud to turn the spotlight on and share their stories.
Tom Duckett’s coach, Jim Hallberg shared in his nomination that Tom had one heck of a journey getting to IM Boulder. He was signed up for 2015, but had to withdraw due to excruciating, chronic back pain. Despite that personal setback, he still participated in the D3 pre-race events to support his teammates. Through surgery, Tom was able to get back on his feet, but had to learn how to manage training through recovery, along with work and family responsibilities (he has twin 11 year old boys!). He pulled it all together to achieve his goals for 2016 and finished IM Boulder in less than 15 hours. Coach Jim said, “it was real touch and go his workouts, but he proceeded to get stronger, and faster. And this year HE outlined his goals and finished in 15:00hrs. He showed tremendous work ethic this summer in his build up/ remained healthy and nailed his goal! He was a pleasure to work with and I have lots of respect for him.”
Coach Simon nominated Mike Farmer as he was amazed at Mike’s ability to remain focused throughout the race despite enduring a significant injury early on. Mike apparently damaged his toe during the swim exit, but didn’t let that stop him! He finished the race 14 hours and change, and Simon notes how impressive that is for a first IM – especially at 60! Rebounding from something so painful during the early stages of a race is no easy feet (yes, I wrote f-e-e-t). Being able to stay focused throughout a 14 hour race while in pain takes tremendous perseverance and we are proud of his accomplishment!
Following is the Q&A with both athletes!
1. You set your sites on IM Boulder. What inspired you to want to do this particular race vs. other Ironmans?
Mike: Last year I volunteered to drive a videographer on my motorcycle as we followed a couple athletes throughout the day. I was inspired by their stories as well as I saw several friends out there giving their all and I came home determined to make it happen in Boulder. Photo: Mike is on the right, Coach Simon is on the left.
Tom: I had always wanted to do an IM length and being local to Colorado allowed me to train on the course and be very comfortable with it and the conditions.
2. Describe your training prep for IM Boulder with 8 words!
Mike: Steady progression, nutrition planning, positive mental attitude practice.
Tom: Long-time-coming, persistence, flexibility, targeted.
3. What helped you to stay focused on your goals during the race?
Mike: I kept visualizing the finish and not wanting to let family, friends, and my coach down.
Tom: Jim (my coach), and I developed a solid plan going in, and I knew where I had to stay to get through the day. I put complete faith in it. What kept me focused was never questioning my goals or plan. When you question, doubt creeps in and you lose focus. Although this was my first IM I had plenty of time to build up to it and be comfortable in and knowing what certain zones felt like. I lost the ability to track HR, pace, timing halfway through the run but I knew what the right zone should feel like so I just stuck with it.
Tom shared a very personal reflection on what it meant to stay focused during this race. “I completed the first shorter loop and was headed out on 36 when I came upon the accident where the young lady, Michelle Walters, lost her life. It was probably 5 min after it happened. There were volunteers and motorists around her. By the time I got parallel I couldn’t help but look down. She was alive but in bad shape. I gave it a few more cranks and wondered should I go back, can I provide assistance, what should I do? I thought what could I do that wasn’t already being done so I kept pedaling. After that moment I lost it, I was brought to tears because I knew, I could just feel she wasn’t going to make it. After a few more minutes I focused and then focused hard and reminded myself why I was doing this and how lucky it is to be alive. I kept that focus for the entire race and literally was smiling the rest of the day and I think I high fived every hand offered during the run. Crossing the finish line I was a bit bewildered that this long journey was over but felt very lucky and blessed to be surrounded by my family. It is such a tragedy that Michelle died but for me it is another reminder to enjoy every day and have fun in these crazy events we seek to push ourselves in. It has been 30 years since my first tri but no event will have the effect on me that this one did.”
4. Describe the feelings you had as you crossed the finish line.
Mike: It was very emotional for me. I thought of all the people that helped me complete this journey and what a privilege it is to be able to do an Ironman.
Tom: Bewildered, lucky, & blessed. A bit bewildered at what I had just done, lucky to be able to have such an experience and blessed by incredible support.
5. Whats in your race future?
Mike: I feel my best races may be ahead of me, even at age 60!
Tom: 2016 marked my 30th year since my first tri and I want to keep at them, but probably keeping to halfs versus fulls so I can maintain balance between family, sport, career, and community.