June 14, 2014 in Sports

Meehan: Trio of golfers share Ironman bond

By The Spokesman-Review

Ironman Coeur d’Alene will take place later this month and Bob Scott, Darin Vaughan and Troy Blood will be there – this time as spectators.

Last year the trio successfully negotiated the grueling 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and 26.2-mile run, a thorough test of body and mind. Ironman participants come from all walks of life, including the golf industry.

Blood, 39, caught the Ironman bug shortly after leaving his job as assistant pro at Black Rock in 2007 to start a security business. He’s completed five Ironmans.

“We went to watch the first one (in 2003) and I had no idea what Ironman was like,” Blood said. “I was like, ‘Dude, that’s crazy. I’d never do that.’ ”

Until he did, slimming down from 195 pounds to 154 in the process. Vaughan, pro at Twin Lakes Village, slowly warmed to competing in an Ironman at the urging of longtime friend Blood.

“He’d been bugging me for years and a couple years ago I made the comment, ‘All right, 2013 I’ll do it,’ ” the 39-year-old Vaughan said. “I had to talk someone else into it so I talked to Bobby.”

Scott, pro at MeadowWood, didn’t need much convincing. He used to slip away from a tournament at MeadowWood to watch Ironman cyclists when the old bike route included Liberty Lake.

“I said, ‘That’s a bucket list item, I’m going to do that,’ ” Scott said.

It’s difficult to complete an Ironman but an equal challenge is finding time to fit in all the hours of training. A golf pro’s schedule is fairly agreeable, with business slowing down in winter and early spring, the same time frame as Ironman training months.

Scott and Vaughan leaned heavily on Blood’s experience for training methods and nutrition tips. The three trained together whenever possible, often mixing two disciplines (swim-bike, run-bike, run-swim) into a workout. They trained six days a week.

Blood said he was in “terrible” shape at the outset. He was solid on the bike and has made major improvement with swimming and running. He finished in just under 11 hours last year and has a goal of qualifying for the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii.

Vaughan, an experienced runner, had completed marathons. He picked up biking fairly quickly and Twin Lakes member Bill Brown helped with swimming instruction. He timed 12 hours, 24 minutes last year.

Scott, 54, is comfortable in the water but running takes a toll on his body. He figured he could finish the marathon, even if it meant walking significant portions. He clocked 15:41.

“They finished, went home, showered, went to dinner,” Scott cracked, “and then came back out and gave me crap on the run.”

The hours devoted to training left little time for golf, but Scott’s improved physical condition has been great for his surgically repaired back. Blood took a hiatus from golf but he’s getting back in the swing this year. Vaughan’s game suffered because he didn’t have as much time to practice.

Race day presented the three with unexpected obstacles. Vaughan skipped his morning coffee and the result was a nagging headache. “I also found out on the run it doesn’t matter how slowly you go, it’s the same pain,” he said.

Scott wasn’t counting on a great riding time, particularly after he stationed his bike alongside his competitors at city park.

“It cost $1,600,” Scott said. “It’s a pretty good bike in my eyes. When I looked around on the rail I went, ‘Oh my God.’ Their bikes were five, 10 grand.”

Scott was planning on playing in a Monday pro-am the day after Ironman. That notion disappeared when he saw one of his golfing buddies during the race.

“They’d made a sign, ‘C’mon Bobby,’ ” Scott said. “I told them to call my pro-am team and tell them there’s no way I’m playing tomorrow.”

Blood said the most important thing is making sure you’ve trained properly. He called the minutes prior to the swim “magical” with an indescribable amount of energy on the beach.

“You can do a half Ironman and the next week your life is back to normal,” Blood said. “I don’t know what it is about that Ironman distance but it keeps calling you back.”

That’s one of the many reasons the three will probably do another Ironman in the future. Others include the sheer challenge, the camaraderie with other Ironman competitors and the overwhelming support from family, friends and volunteers.

“My wife and kids were there at the finish,” Vaughan said. “I’m glad I had sunglasses on; it was just emotional running down Sherman (Avenue).”

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