IM Santa Rosa: Swim, Bike, Save-a-Life, Run

Patricia DeLaMora did what she’s done 10 times before: toe the line for the start of an Ironman. It’s become pretty routine for her, having finished Ironman Germany, Arizona (twice), Boulder, Lake Tahoe, Mt. Tremblant, Florida and Lake Placid. This time it was Ironman Santa Rosa, held this past weekend on July 29th.

Patricia is not blazing fast, but she’s consistent and she’s a lifer. Oh, and as will become crucial to the narrative, she’s Patricia DeLaMora, M.D.

She finished the swim, hopped on her bike, things were progressing apace, until…

SLOWTWITCH: You did the swim, got on bike, how far along were you before you saw what you saw?

PATRICIA DELAMORA: I didn’t look at my computer, mile-24, 26, something like that.

[What Patricia – who goes by Tricia – saw saw at mile–24 was a man–down and while no bike crash is routine, it turned out there was something particularly urgent about this one.]

PD: I was not the first to stop; two others were already there. I’m slow, I did a 15hr ironman [that day]. I asked, “Do you need doctor?” and they responded “Yes.” As I’m checking him over another fourth person pulled over.

[It becomes apparent to Patricia that the injured person was not simply unresponsive, but needed CPR.]

PD: The fourth guy who stopped, I did mouth-to-mouth, he did chest compressions.

ST: How was your impromptu partner?

PD: He was good.

ST: Let’s be honest about this. If you’re doing CPR, the odds aren’t good. What was going through your mind?

PD: Yes. But I’m a pediatrician, so I can’t really speak to the odds of CPR. But my understanding is, yes [the odds aren’t good]. The thing is that we got there early, and he had effective CPR. The timing was important. The paramedics, when they came they were putting pads on him, then I left.

[The man was down for about 2 minutes before Patricia arrived, according to those who were at the scene first. She estimates 6 or 7 minutes worth of CPR was performed before emergency medical personnel arrived and took over.]

ST: But when you left, honestly what did you think?

PD: I didn’t know. I was really, really upset. I spent a lot of time worrying and praying.

ST: It’s a long race, a long time to be out there with this man in the front your mind.

PD: When I was on the run there was a medic, I asked him, he told me that he made it. I had a power surge on the run! My husband was there too. I saw him on the run, and I told him. [Tricia's husband is also a doctor, whose name has come up on our Reader Forum as a recommendation for a good orthopedic surgeon in New York.]

ST: This must just be the best week ever for you!

PD: It was really overwhelming! It’s been a ride!

Patricia went on to say that she’d been up to Lake Placid the week prior, and was happy to see that Ironman was offering hands-on CPR training for athletes. "I’m very happy I know CPR,” she said. "I’m happy another knew CPR; but one [performing CPR alone] can be effective.”

She said that if the recovering athlete wanted to reach out she’d be fine with it, but, "Would I reach out to him directly?” She’s concerned it might be an intrusion. "This was hugely traumatizing for him. If he wanted to find me, he could fine me.”

When Mike Reilly calls Patricia DeLaMora an Ironman as she runs toward the line, in her case, on this day, it was an understatement.

Race photos: (c)