My first Triathlon
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Ironman Coeur d'Alene - TriathlonFull Ironman
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Coeur d'Alene, Idaho
World Triathlon Corporation
= 11h 28m 47s
Age Group Rank
I had two goals going into this IM: Break 11:30, and break 4 hours on the marathon. Once I saw the conditions and the forecast, I decided that both were probably not going to happen, so I revised my goal to simply beat my IM PR set in Canada '07 of 11:44. Figured with the flatter run course, it was doable.
NIGHT BEFORE DINNER-
We went to Applebee's. I've never eaten at one, so we went for it. I had a steak, baked potato with butter, sour cream, bacon, cheese, some of my daughter's cheeseburger, about 5 honey barbecue wings dipped in ranch sauce, some celery, two Cokes...they had to roll me out of there! Then I ate about 4 choc. chip cookies back at the hotel. I was topped off baby!
Saturday pre-race with the kids at the hotel indoor waterpark:
The rule of thumb that I've seen mentioned over and over is to make sure you get a great night of sleep TWO nights before the race, because damned if you're going to be able to the night before. Well, that certainly proved to be God's truth in my case. For those of you not familiar with my situation, I was traveling with my wife and two kids- ages 5 1/2 and 19 months. By the way, I apologized to my family and told my wife I'd never drag them on an Ironman trip again after this one! More on that later...
So, great night of sleep Friday night. By some freaky miracle, my son, who wakes up at 5:45am EVERY GODDAMN DAY at home, slept until 7:30am Saturday morning! Hallelujah!
My little devil:
Good thing too because I woke up about every 1/2 hour looking at the clock radio to see if it was time to wake up race morning, even though I knew a wakeup call was coming and my wife set the alarm on her iPhone. Fortunately, fear and adrenaline go a long way toward masking lack of sleep. Since we were staying about 5 miles from the race site, my wife didn't want to be left without wheels all day, so we dragged the little ones out of bed, downstairs for a quick breakfast
(thanks for the 4am breakfast Holiday Inn Hayden!
), and off to the race. Oddly, in northern Idaho, on the longest day of the year
), it's actually already light out at 4:15am!
My wonderful family:
Fortunately, the weather is mostly cloudy, but with some sun here and there, but definitely on the cooler side. The forecast has flip-flopped all week and the last read before bed had rain holding off until later in the day. Good! I really just wanted to be off the bike before the rain started. Your bike just gets so freaking cruddy and the ride is so unpleasant in the rain.
Did all my prep stuff at the race site and quickly checked in with the family on the sea wall. It was freezing for them with plenty of wind and a light chop coming straight in at the beach at 6:15 in the morning. My daughter was shivering but my son seemed pretty non-plussed, but he still has plenty of babyfat. I felt bad for my wife! Ah, the guilt! We carry a green Gatorade bottle with water at home a lot when we go places, so he kept looking at the giant inflateable Gatorade bottle and asking for a drink of it. Ha, ha.
Freezing race morning:
So, we took a couple of quick photos and I got suited up and made my way to the beach. There were thousands of spectators, ringing true what I've read here on ST about the local fan support for this race. It was a veritable CRAWL to get through the crowd to the beach and eventually I just jumped off the sea wall instead of trying to get to a set of stairs. So, as I prepared for the swim, stretching the arms and shoulders, moving far to the right and forward, I realized that I'm the lone male with a white swim cap. All the guys have orange caps, and all the girls have white. I see some girls looking at me, with my whiskers, rather oddly. WTF? I just chalk it up to the volunteer that checked me in
(a California transplant named John
) making an error. I decide I'll consider it a good omen.
I'm near the left side of this shot. Look for the only guy with the white cap:
BOOM! The cannon fires and I run into the water. I'm in front about 3/4 of the way to the right, figuring I've seeded myself well for about a 1:10-1:14 swim. Apparently there were a lot of others in my ballpark because it was a pure clusterf&*%. Feet, arms, bodies...I was getting destroyed. I simply can't swim well in a crowd, as many times as I've tried. I'm so concerned about getting kicked in the nose or punched in the head that I just cannot get a good rhythm going! Amid all of this, about 400 meters into the swim, Mike Reilly's pre-race instructions of "Make sure you pass through the swim start timing mat before the start" echo in my head because I FORGOT TO DO THAT! Oh snap! Does that mean I'm going to get DQ'ed, or not have a time? Sonofabitch. Oh well, just keep going.
Pics of the melee:
So, all the way to the midway point of lap one, I was stuck unable to swim like I wanted. I remember thinking as we were bobbing up and down in the oncoming chop that I was sure someone was going to get seasick and I fully expected to swim through a sea of chunder, but alas it never happened thankfully. The return trip with the wind/chop was considerably faster and despite the crowd, or perhaps because of the current generated by it, I swam lap one in about 35 minutes, the same as my practice lap two days prior where there was no one near me. Off my PR pace as I expected, but about right for the conditions. Reilly actually yells my name as I cross the timing mat on the beach, so I'm a little more confident that now I'm "official".
Second lap I had more clean water by far, but still bumped people quite a bit, and came in from the swim at about 1:12. 3 minutes slower than my PR set at Placid last year.
I run up feeling fresh and not at all tired, and plop it down for the wetsuit strippers. It takes two people working their asses off to get my suit legs over my ankles. I'm laughing and so are they! I thank them and move on, thinking I have to make up for the time lost on the swim, and move to the changing tent. Imagine a big tent, full of half-naked men, all in a hurry dumping out bags, pulling on clothes, tripping over each other, not an inch of room. I quickly retreat to the doorway and dump my bag on the grass, and methodically go about pulling on a bike jersey and arm warmers over my sleeveless top, getting on the socks and shoes, sunglasses, then putting my wetsuit, goggles and cap back in my bag, then booking it out of there. 6 1/2 minutes or so...not good, but the best I could do. My thinking was the sleeveless underneath the wetsuit, I would be good with just that for the run. The bike jersey and arm warmers for the bike because it was essentially convertible to short sleeves if it got hot on the bike, and I'd have jersey pockets to stuff things at Special Needs so I could get on my way quickly. These turned out to be good decisions.
I remember getting about 20 miles into the bike and thinking, "Damn, do I really still have another 92 miles to go? Why did I sign up for this again????". I decided that I was going to have to come to grips with these feelings of doubt all day, but as I've done in IM's past, I'll press on and suffer. As it turned out, I had many ups and downs on the bike, reminding me that IM is no joke and doesn't get any easier, at least for me. It almost gets harder in that you know what sort of pain and suffering you're going to have to endure, and that first-timer excitement/drive isn't there. You're purely running on mind-over-body willpower.
The course, once you're out of town, is really quite beautiful. Rolling hills, farms, lake views, etc. There are a million turns and some really fun descents, and the fan/volunteer support along the bike course was incredible. Bagpipers, cheerleaders, people dressed up like various characters including Elmo playing a drum kit, one old dude on the backside of the course with a pith helmet on that looked like the grandpa from "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" with a bike next to him from the same era:
dudes with megaphones, PA systems, beer, barbecues. Many, many of these folks were out there ALL DAY keeping us cracking up during our suffering. Just incredible!
So as I'm riding along, I notice that I'm holding nearly a 19mph average which is good for me
(absolute drivel by ST standards
) for this distance, and I clear 56 miles in under 3 hours. Wow! Might I have a shot at a bike PR? Just before I came to Special Needs, some dude in front of me stands up and starts pissing as he descends the hill. I had to quickly get out of his "stream" and pass. Bastard!
I hit Special Needs, and the poor kid grabs the wrong bag, so I wait while he runs back and gets my bag, and I rip it open and stash my PBJ and cookie in my jersey pocket. I then scoop out a handful of Chamois Butt'r and warn him to look away unless he wants to be grossed out. I shove it down my pants and slather my tackle with it for lap two, and off I go.
Lap 2 of the bike was a mental game. I was getting tired and my body was telling me it wasn't enjoying this, but I was hanging on. I questioned why I was doing this to myself again and at one point, as the bike course passed by my hotel, I briefly fantasized about turning into the parking lot, taking the elevator up, and climbing into bed and turning on HBO. I was just on the verge of mild nausea at times, but I was fueling well I thought and it seemed every five miles or so I'd go up and then back down. I really dialed down the nutritition for the last 1/2 hour of the bike. The weather was getting cooler. I was just right in what I was wearing and really couldn't figure out how people in just singlets were staying warm. Brrr. The clouds were thickening and I was just hoping I could finish the bike before the rain came in. Spare the mental ups and downs of the bike, of which there were many for me mentally, and suffice to say I came in at 6:08:25, which was just 24 seconds slower than IM Florida, which of course was a flat course. So, I was happy with my bike time given the course. Near the end of that, I saw some folks just heading out for their second lap of the bike. Man, I truly felt sorry for them!
I was quite efficient here going about 2 1/2 minutes. I opted to keep the arm warmers, but ditch the short sleeve bike jersey. That was a critical decision.
So my big mistake the past two IM's was overfueling on the run. I had been taking in too many calories, eating something like 300 calories an hour on the run, and dealt with nausea most of the run both times. So, this time around, I stopped taking in anything other than water about 30 minutes before the bike finish, and was feeling pretty emptied out by the time the run started. Perfect! I had 3 gels in my pocket for lap one, and figured I'd take in about 150 calories an hour between a gel and a bit of Gatorade. My watch showed 7:30 race time as I left T2. Okay, now I had my target. If I could run a sub-4 marathon, I could achieve both my race goals. Question was, could I maintain that pace? I had to find out. The first thing I noticed was that it was starting to rain lightly and the temps had dropped dramatically, and the wind had picked up. Much of the run is fairly exposed along the lakefront, and with the wind, I'd guess we had a windchill in the low '50's/high 40's? Let's put it this way, the cold alone was motivation to keep running, and I never grabbed a sponge or dumped water on my head the entire marathon. My hands were practically numb. So, I continued on, watching my pace, which was easy since I started on the half hour. I was clocking miles in the high '8's. I never do LONG training runs that fast. I couldn't possibly keep it up, could I?
Again, highs and lows during the marathon. As soon as I'd think about how much longer I had to run, I'd want to curl up into a ball and cry, but I'd try to take my mind off of it. I saw one guy doubled over a railing barfing his guts out. I saw many others walking with space blankets around them. The volunteers were absolutely awesome! I got to the "Ford Motivational Mile" thing where your customized message pops up on a screen after you cross the timing mat. My message was "Run Jay, it's not Pantyman!" didn't show up that first lap. I figured they censored me. A high point came at the turnaround when my wife and son surprised me and cheered me on. At that point, I was feeling good, and "only" had 13 miles to go. I had cleared the first half of the marathon in about 1:52 or so I think. I had a shot still! I also thought about my wife and kids having to sit out there for another 2 hours to see me finish. Oh, the guilt again!
The second lap was colder, windier, rainier. This was suffering at it's best. Just when you're at your lowest point of the longest day of your year, Mother Nature kicks you in the nuts and tries to pummel you into submission. But I did not give in. I only "speed-walked" two aid stations, when I drank cola just to give me a break from the G'ade/water regime I had been using all day, but ran the entire rest of the way, other than two portapotty breaks. Those breaks were key for me. I would lean against the side of the thing, comfortable, out of the wind, stomach quickly settling thanks to the brief rest, and then jump out and press on. I was almost there!
The run course is pretty flat with a few small hills and one short-but-notable hill at the turnaround of each lap. Certainly not as tough as Placid last year which has two significant hills on each lap of the run.
So, I finally reach mile 20 and start breaking down the last 6.2 miles. "Okay, only 10K to go! That's nothing! Less than an hour!". So, I'm fooling myself mentally, and it's working. I hit mile 23
) and my message comes up, giving me a laugh, and think about how that's a run down so-and-so in my neighborhood and back! Breaking it into little pieces. I start picking it up a bit, realizing that meeting my race goals is a matter of holding my pace. I started thinking about Sian Welch/Chris Legh/Julie Moss, and wondering if I was going to collapse right before the finish, but as soon as I rounded that last corner and looked down that long downhill straightaway to the finish line, it's like all the day's pain, suffering, doubt was erased! I picked up my pace, looked at my watch one last time, and gave it everything for that last 1/4 mile. I will venture to say it was my favorite finish line experience to date in my 5 seasons of triathlon. Thousands of fans, the finish in the distance with Reilly and Ziebart screaming...just phenomenal. Truly the rockstar experience. I passed one really big guy who told me "good job sir" and I yelled back, "you too...great finish!" and I started weaving back and forth high-fiving spectators who were yelling "you did it!!". I was fist-pumping, living in the moment, forgetting how cold and exhausted I was. Near the finish, I jumped up and down, spun around and did my signature finish leap, in the process reaching both my goals finishing in 11:28:47 and running a 3:58:31 marathon.
My legs were wobbly, and the catcher led me to the food. I can never eat much after these races. Quite an irony considering pizza is my favorite. So I downed a couple of slices and some chicken broth and headed for the massage tent. As soon as I walked in, it smelled like ten cows farted. I got to a table quickly and they had to rub my legs and throw two blankets on me because I was shivering so much.
I didn't stick around because I knew my wife would be really suffering with the kids. I hobbled over to transition with two space blankets wrapped around me and got all my bags and bike and after dropping the bike at the TBT tent, headed for the car. My poor wife told me the kids were crying, freezing, etc., so she ended up missing my finish. I just felt bad for her. She had even brought me a McD's milkshake, which I promptly inhaled, and we headed for the hotel. I took a bath, a LONG bath and then climbed under the covers.
Aaaahhhhh, the bath:
My son decided I was a trampoline and promptly jumped on me several times. Normally I would go back for the final finishers, but I was spent, cold and didn't want to make that long drive again, so I bagged it regrettably. I was out cold by 9:30pm and slept through until 7 the next morning.
Not nearly as sore as Placid last year, probably due to the flatter run course. As I type this two days later, I'm feeling pretty good. Just a little sore still, but definitely better than last year.
Well, I'm already planning IM #5, which will be in Australia! My wife's hometown in Port Macquarie! March 28th! I guess it's like women having babies. They forget how much it hurts, so they have more. Amazingly the next morning, I had forgotten how low those low points were, but I'll be remembering them 9 months from now!
Of course, the weather was flawless the day we left, but we did have time to squeeze in some go kart action:
1h 12m 59s
01m 44s / 100 yards
6h 08m 25s
3h 58m 31s
09m 06s min/mile
Last updated: 2009-06-28 12:00 AM
01:12:59 | 4224 yards | 01m 44s / 100yards
0F / 0C
Run with bike:
Jump on bike:
Getting up to speed:
06:08:25 | 112 miles | 18.24 mile/hr
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike
Shoe and helmet removal
03:58:31 | 26.2 miles | 09m 06s min/mile
Mental exertion [1-5]
Physical exertion [1-5]
Lots of volunteers?
Plenty of drinks?
Post race activities:
Race evaluation [1-5]
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