Andy Foltz competed in his first Ironman competition on Nov. 17 in Arizona. In fact, when he signed up he had never competed in a triathlon or marathon before.
Foltz graduated from Sumner High School in 2002. While a Spartan, he played for the golf team. After graduating high school, he studied at Western Washington University where he was on the men’s rowing team.
Once he graduated from Western, he stayed connected to rowing. He started coaching and for two years during graduate school at the University of Washington he volunteered as an intern coach for the women’s rowing team, he said.
Currently, Foltz is an assistant coach for the Oregon State University women’s rowing team.
The Ironman consists of a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike ride and a 26.2 mile run.
Prior to competing, Foltz said out of the three events he only felt confident in the biking portion.
“I have done the Seattle to Portland Classic a few times,” he said. “But I had never even done laps in a pool (before).”
However, by the time November came, he had competed in a triathlon but still had never run a full marathon, he said.
A friend and former colleague, Courtney Haase, from the University of Minnesota, where he worked prior to Oregon State, got him interested into competing in the Ironman, he said.
At the time, she had competed in four Ironman’s and would share with Foltz that she had learned a lot about herself through training and competing.
“(What she said) really struck a cord somewhere within me,” he said. “It was a huge challenge and one that the journey would provide the greatest realization of what kind of person I am and can be.”
When Haase met Foltz in 2011, she said he was not in the best shape. At the time she was training for an Ironman competition and he would ask her questions about her training and competing.
For Christmas, Haase bought him the book, “Becoming an Ironman.”
Foltz went to Arizona last year, he said, where he volunteered for the Ironman to see what it was all about.
“I came away from it inspired and fired up,” Foltz said. “I didn’t sleep that night I just wanted to be out there doing it.”
The next day when registration opened he signed up and persuaded Haase to sign up and compete with him, he said. And she did.
In her experience, “most people like the idea of being an Ironman but they don’t want to train or make the commitment,” she said.
She was a little surprised when Foltz signed up to the Ironman. But she set up a training plan and sent him a copy of it.
Foltz’s training started the moment he signed up, he said, at least mentally it did. Once he got back to Oregon from volunteering, he workout roughly three to four times a week.
By the time spring came, he was training six days a week until November. Each week, Foltz would increase mileage and time. He would do a good mix of all three disciplines.
“He did an incredible job sticking to the training plan,” Haase said.
After a year of training both mentally and physically, race day had arrived.
“The actual race day was amazing,” Foltz said. “I was so nervous.”
The swim portion of the Ironman came first and that was what he was most nervous for, he said. But he was very calm and comfortable in the water and he really enjoyed swimming the 2.4 miles.
“It was awesome to see Andy progress through the year and gain confidence and discipline,” Haase said. “I am really proud of him for jumping into this sport and trying something new. The best part of an Ironman is learning about yourself and your limits. I think Andy realized how much he enjoys being healthy and fit and how much he likes having a challenge in life.”
After months of training alone, Foltz said the best part of competing were the people competing with him and the spectators.
“It was great to see people out there cheering for me,” he said.
Foltz finished the race in 12 hours, 13:26 minutes, ranking 962, according to the Ironman’s website.
“Ironman races are cruel and a huge challenge,” he said. But the greatest feeling was knowing that he finished the race and heard Mike Riley “The Voice of Ironman” call out his name and tell him that he was an Ironman.