Milojevic swims, bikes and runs to the finish line in Coeur d’Alene

Medal of iron

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Nathan Milojevic has iron in his veins.

The 19-year-old from Washougal earned 30th place out of 43 competitors in the 18 to 24 age division at the Ironman Coeur d’Alene June 23. He completed a 2.4-mile swim (1:06.25), a 112-mile bike ride (6:38) and a 26.2-mile run (5:42.05) in 13 hours, 39 minutes and 51 seconds.

“In those last couple of miles, when I realized how close I was, I was just stoked even though I had a hard time standing,” Milojevic said. “At the end, it was like a dream. It didn’t feel like it actually happened, but it did.”

The event kicked off with a two-loop swim through Lake Coeur d’Alene.

Swimming is Milojevic’s speciality. He has been a lifeguard at the Camas Municipal Pool for four summers and he competed for Washougal High School through three winters. But nothing before prepared Milojevic for racing in a body of water with 2,000 other swimmers.

“It was fight or flight,” he said. “I got kicked in the face once or twice. I didn’t expect it to be so hectic.”

The next phase included two loops of biking around rural Northern Idaho. Each loop began with a scenic ride around the shores of Lake Couer d’Alene and then entered the rolling hills west of the lake.

“I felt really calm on the bike,” Milojevic said. “The first time I did one of these races, I rented a bike from a shop, went on a few rides and that was it. This time, I had more experience and it was more relaxing.”

And last, but not least, the competitors had to run the length of a marathon through the streets of Couer d’Alene. The course ran parallel with the lake before a steep climb at the southern turnaround point.

“At that point, your legs are dead, and you’re just aiming to finish,” Milojevic said. “All of the running I did in the last two years paid off for me. I was afraid I wouldn’t even finish, but I did better than I thought I could.”

Milojevic entered the Pacific Crest Half Ironman in 2011. That convinced him to give up football and run cross country during his senior year of high school.

He is pursuing a major in nutrition at the University of Colorado, while taking pre-med courses on the side. Milojevic said it’s tough to workout in between school and having a social life, but the results are worth the effort.

“Once my mind gets set on something, I got to do it,” he said. “Swimming is all I had done before I started doing triathlons. My running has come on strong. Biking is still a work in progress.”

Milojevic enjoys being home for the summer, and continuing to work as a lifeguard at the Camas pool.

“It’s a good summer job,” he said. “You learn a lot of skills while teaching kids how to swim. I hope I can use those skills in the future.”

He also loves the outdoor life in Colorado.

“There are plenty of times when I walk out my door and go adventuring for 5 or 6 hours,” Milojevic said. “Sometimes I get lost, but it’s fun finding my way back.”

Milojevic’s parents, Steve and Denise, continue to be encouraging.

“No matter how crazy the idea, my parents have always supported me,” he said.

Milojevic’s friends and family wonder what he’s going to do next. He said he has his eye on a few Olympic distance triathlons in the future.

“This gave me a goal, and I did all of things necessary to make it happen,” Milojevic said. “I feel like I can do whatever I want. No task is too big now.”