I got a call a few years ago from an individual who had recently won a slot to compete in the IRONMAN Kona World Championships. This entry was attained through a lottery win and tons of praying I'm assuming. What a great opportunity to race among the pros and have fun in Hawaii, right? Yeah, except the fact that most athletes who toss their name in the drawing have completed a triathlon and most likely know how to swim. These weren't the circumstances for our beloved Carl Clark, runner extraordinaire, who couldn't swim a continual 25 meters, and had never done a single triathlon.
Initial contact regarding online coaching
Name: Carl Clark
Phone: 210 xxx xxxx
Message: Today, I found out I won a slot to Kona. I have until 30 June to get my qualifying race in for Kona. June 26 is Buffalo Springs. I can swim, but like a rock or a drowning duck. A lot of motion but really going nowhere. I just want to get out of the water in 70 mins (at Buffalo Springs), get the time and then train for Kona. Because no qualifying time at BS, no Kona.
Look forward to meeting you,
How to get a drowning duck to IM Kona
Taking an individual who battles panic attacks in open water, can't swim more than 25 meters in one go, and has never done a bike TT to an Ironman event in 5 months was like going 0 to 60 in 2 seconds. We dove in and fired up the forge. VO2 tests on the bike and run, dialing in bike fit, swim form analysis, we did it all. Carl was more than willing to do whatever it would take. He is a life-long student of pain with roots in Special Forces. He took what I threw and asked "what next?". With Computrainer workouts in the garage at 5am, open water swims at Boerne Lake while I rode shotgun in a kayak, and weekend bricks in the heat of summer, we plowed through the pile of newbie frustrations and witnessed a drowning duck adapt to his new medium.
Five months later and a TON of specific work, Carl showed up to Kona for the event of a lifetime. Not only did he finish the 140.6 mile-long event (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and 26.2 mile run), he did so in a very sweet debut time of 12:30:21.
Fast forward 4 years
Our drowning duck now hits sub 1:40/100 meter and has dialed in his craft well enough to send me a text with his info from the 2014 season...
"WTC All World Athlete rankings came out today and I made Bronze level, top 10%, again. Also made Top 100 in my age group for USAT and All American Status again. And in the WTC 70.3 races I made Silver level, top 5%".
Carl had a great 2014
• WTC All World Athlete - top 10%
• USAT - top 100 age group & All American status
• WTC 70.3 - Silver level, top 5%
2015 is going to be all about building the machine and trying to find Carl's top end. Who knows what that will be but we're both enjoying the journey.