This year marks my first trip to Kona. As someone who came to triathlon without much experience in any of the three sports, I have been very fortunate to have the guidance of Mike Ricci at D3 Multisport to steer me in the right direction these past 4 years.
Prior to working with Mike, I didn’t follow any program or have any structure. I just swam, biked, and ran whenever I wanted and my results reflected that very relaxed strategy. But over the past 4 seasons I have been lucky enough to progress each season and have had a lot of fun doing it. I even was able to grab my KQ with the overall win at Ironman Lake Tahoe in 2015, but it is not lost on me how fortunate I have been in this sport to have great guidance and an amazing support network.
For Kona this year, I no doubt have some competitive goals, but the most important thing is to enjoy the experience with my wife, three-month-old son, and parents. It is easy for people to take this sport, and themselves, too seriously, so I can only hope that through all the pain, humidity, and heat on Saturday I can keep focused on the big picture, which is so much more important than one race on an island.
I’m super excited for my first trip to Kona! My journey to Kona qualification was not a easy one. I came to triathlon in 2007 without much of a sporting background, so I had a lot to learn. Like many triathletes I battled through years of injuries, a lack of swimming skills, and a demanding job requiring tons of travel.
In 2012 I completed my first full iron distance race, Beach2Battleship. I was well prepared and doing great until my mind gave up, my stomach gave out, and I walked the last 6 miles. I loved the ‘ridiculousness’ of the distance and knew I could improve.
All in it took 6 Ironmans and 1 DNF over 3 years for me to to crack the code on Ironman. I’m motivated by the analytical challenge of how to get faster across three sports. There were small lessons like how many salt tabs to take on a hot day, and there were also big lessons. For example at IM Boulder 2014, I was in 5th place at some point on the run but didn’t know it. I thought I was well behind the leaders in my AG. Again, I mentally gave up on the last few miles and let a podium spot slip away. I learned just how tough you have to be to suffer all the way to the finish line.
Everything finally came together in 2015. Leading up to IM Chattanooga I had focused on strength training to prevent injuries, dialing in my nutrition and getting enough sleep. On race day, the down current swim and the 4 “bonus” miles on the bike played to my strengths and weaknesses. I came off the bike in 10th place and used all lessons I had learned over the previous races to stay focused and calm. I passed 7 people on the run, which was good enough for 3rd place and a Kona slot.
I am deeply grateful for the team of professionals who work with me to get me race ready including Mike Ricci, Head Coach D3 Multisport, Ellie Kempton from Simply Nourished and Gabe Free from Balance Gym DC. I’m also a member of Team SFQ by Smashfest Queen – it’s an awesome group of inspiring, supportive women who all love a good smashfest!
From Mike : “I’ve been coaching Sarah for a number of years and right from the get-go, I recognized that Sarah had what it takes to get to Hawaii! She’s diligent about her training and taking care of herself which made the coaching journey very fun. It did take us a while to figure out her ‘formula’, but with her hard work and perseverance she was able to finally punch her ticket. I’m very happy for her and can’t wait to see her on the start line!”
My name is Laura Marcoux and I am on the D3 Multisport Elite team, and I am also a member of the D3 coaching staff. Mike Ricci has been my coach for the past 2 seasons, which is the extent of my ironman experience. My first Ironman was Arizona in 2015, and my second one was Boulder this year, where I qualified for Kona.
I graduated from the University of Connecticut in 2010, where I played 4 years of Division 1 lacrosse. After my junior year, I needed a mental break from lacrosse so I signed up for my first sprint triathlon over the summer. I bought a cheap road bike, slid my running shoes into the foot cradles that came on the bike, and used my old lifeguard bathing suit and a pair of spandex shorts as my race kit. On race morning, they announced that the water would be too warm for wetsuits and I remember looking at my husband (then boyfriend) and saying, “Well that’s good because I have no idea what a wetsuit is.” So I zig-zagged my way through the swim, biked in the least aero position that you can possibly achieve, and managed to run my way into 2nd place in my age group. I was ecstatic that I actually placed, but it only took a few hours after finishing for me to realize that if I just trained a little bit harder, maybe I could come in 1st next time.
A few years and an abundance of updated equipment later, I signed up for my first full ironman- Ironman Maryland. I’m from Maryland and I had a lot of family and friends that were planning on being my support crew at that race. I worked really hard all year leading up to race week, mostly out of fear, only to find out on the plane on the way to Maryland that the race would be canceled due to a hurricane that was sweeping through. It took a few stressful weeks to find out if I would be able to get into another race that year, but I finally gained an entry to Arizona. That was the perfect first ironman for me because I was so relieved to actually be able to race, that it took a lot of pressure off and I was just grinning from ear to ear for all 11 hours.
I have a lot of sources of inspiration for triathlon, but the main one is my husband, Ryan, and the way that he blindly supports me, believes in me and sacrifices for me to be able to do this crazy sport. Another huge source of inspiration that I’ve just found recently in my journey to my first ironman is my fellow athletes. Coming from a team sport background, I was bred to have a win or lose mentality. I wanted desperately to win and I wanted my competitors to lose. In training for an ironman, you come to have such a respect and appreciation for the training that not only you, but everyone else around you is putting in just to be able to complete the distance. I truly feel like I am out there going to battle with my fellow competitors, instead of against them, which is such an amazing, empowering feeling that carries me through races.
Other D3 athletes competing include: