aka "E" godmother of Ironman
I am an age group athlete currently competing in the 45-49 age group in various distances of triathlon, duathlons and half marathons. It all started in 1998 when I thought it would be a great idea to run a marathon before my 40th birthday. I decided to run the Inaugural Rock n Roll Marathon. I joined Team in Training to train for the marathon while raising funds for my friend's son who had been diagnosed with Lymphoma, he was 3 years old at the time. He is now in remission and doing great.
After running two RnR marathons, I realized that running was becoming monotonous. I wanted more. So when Team in Training started their first Triathlon Team, myself and some of the other marathon team mentors and training buddies thought why not, we can run, how hard can it be to swim and bike? For myself, swimming and biking were completely new sports. My first race was Pacific Grove 1999 cold water and all but I was hooked.
My first Ironman experience came as a volunteer at the California Ironman in May of 2000. It was dark, cold and a long day. We started at 5 a.m. and ended at 10:00 pm. We did body marking, served food and drinks, cheered for the participants and cleaned up the mess. It was hard work. I thought I'd rather do the race. It would be easier than volunteering. So off I went and signed up for my first Ironman.
I had one year to get ready for my first Ironman - how was I going to swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles and run 26.2 miles? I knew the ins and outs of triathlon but Ironman is a whole new animal. The grueling training - 3 swims per week consisting of 3000-4000 yards, 4-6 hour bike rides, track practice and long runs. Getting your rest and your nutrition right is very important too. So how was I going to manage it all? I went to bed at 10 p.m. and got up at 4 a.m. everyday. I would sometimes workout 2 - 3 times per day. I learned to manage my time and get my workouts done everyday. Family support was an immense help and motivator.
At this time I also switched my focus to my other charity the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF). CAF is a non-profit organization that provides grants to physically challenged athletes such as amputees so they can participate in sports. They provide prosthetics, wheelchairs, travel and other accommodations. Recently I also became involved in Operation Rebound a division of CAF that works with wounded soldiers returning from combat to help them get back into sports and lead an active life style.
I trained hard, and while training for Ironman also participated in various sprint, Olympic and long course triathlons. In May of 2001 I completed my first Ironman in 15 hours and 15 minutes! It was the most exciting thing I had ever done!!
After that I became hooked on Ironman and even more addicted to Triathlons. Since 2001 I have completed eight (8) Ironmans, many half Ironmans Olympic, sprints and long distance races. I have won a few medals for placing in my age group. My friends have declared me as the "Godmother of Ironman". I love the sport and everything about the people who surround me in the sport.
After being involved in the sport and having gained a wealth of knowledge from different sources over the years I was asked to Sherpa some of my "younger" counterparts to their first Ironman in St. George in May of 2010, Liz and Whitney. I helped them with lists to make sure they had packed everything they needed, I packed the truck with our bikes and many bags, I drove to St. George and proceeded to get them to the start line. I helped them with the race logistics, what to do and what not to do during the race, helped them pack their special needs and transition bags, woke them up on race day as they didn't wake themselves up - yeah they would have missed the start.
I gave them some REAL advice, and didn't sugarcoat anything. My bluntness was greatly appreciated on the course, because if they had just believed "you'll be fine" they said they would have been QUITE pissed during the race when they really were not "fine." I told them that parts of the race were going to be hard and that they would have to dig deep but to stick with it.
I took care of Whitney & Liz's parents and made sure they knew where and when they needed to be on the course so they could see their daughters as often as possible and what time they would cross the finish line. Both Whitney and Liz had great races in St. George. Whitney qualified for Kona and Liz took 3rd place in her age group - podium for everyone. I was so happy I could be there to help them reach their goals. The parents were ecstatic that they had me to guide them and what a great time they had too.
Once we arrived back home I realized that my experience and knowledge in triathlon and running could help others too. Although most people have done races in the past it is mind boggling that there are so many athletes who are armed with great training programs but no race day knowledge. I though to myself I can do this and thus RACEDAYSERPA was born.
My guinea pigs for my program were Remmi & Jeannie from Breakaway training, the group I train with. Although Luke and Felipe have an awesome program for the athletes there is no real race day prep and support. I confronted Felipe about my idea and he was very excited about it. I became part of the Breakaway Training Coaches.
The following is a quote from Jeannie who completed Ironman Coeur d'Alene in June, 2010.
"I just completed my first Ironman on June 27, 2010. I stuck to my training plan for one year, and I felt fit and ready to go before the race. As race day got closer, however, I began to think that I really didn't understand the logistics of such a huge event on race day, and I needed someone with experience to talk to. Elaine Gower (Race Day Sherpa) is a very experienced Ironman, having completed eight Ironman races herself. Meeting with her made a lot of my uneasiness and race anxiety disappear. When I went to race check-in at the Ironman, I felt confident because I knew what all those bags were for; especially the special needs bags, and I knew what I was going to put in them. Also on race day, when you are nervous and scared of the unknown, I didn't have to worry about race procedures because I was informed about what was going to happen and what to do. Don't rely on the volunteers at the Ironman race check-in to help you prepare for your Ironman. The volunteers are wonderful, but you really need specifics about what to do to prepare for your Ironman. Therefore, I highly recommend using Race Day Sherpa! She helped me make my first Ironman a success! "
I feel my services can benefit a lot of triathles and runners and feel good that I can finally give back just as I was given the best training and have been armed with the best knowledge. I am also so happy to be doing something in a sport that I love.
For more information please visit my website at www.racedaysherpa.com