Ironman Coeur d'Alene - TriathlonFull Ironman

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Coeur d'Alene, Idaho
United States
Ironman North America
Total Time = 11h 45m 57s
Overall Rank = 519/
Age Group = M18-24
Age Group Rank = 17/48
Pre-race routine:

My pre-race started about a year before the actual day, when I decided to sign up for an Ironman having never been in a triathlon, run a marathon, or done any serious cycling. So what possessed me? (always an interesting question with triathletes) College was almost over and I had just gotten into the medical school of my dreams, but for some reason I was feeling a little down. I realized that the choices I had made, while good, had left me feeling for the first time as though there were some limitations on my future - I decided to do something extraordinary to prove to myself that I could still do anything I set my sights on.

I'm not really sure how the idea of an Ironman got lodged in my brain, but there it was. I road-tripped from California to CdA for the 2009 race, was amazed and inspired, and found myself signed up for 2010.

My training plan was to do as many races as I could in the 10 months prior to CdA, but not to have a structured training plan besides that. This low stress/low organization plan was based on my constantly changing school schedule and the decision to be happy with just finishing the race. I ended up training about 10-25 hours per week and racing about 1-2 times per month. I focused heavily on cycling because it is the only discipline that I didn't have much experience with, and because I wanted to build a strong cardio base without getting shin splints or being driven insane by hours spent staring at the stripes on the bottom of my local pool. About two months prior to the race I ramped up my swimming, and about 1 month prior I eased up on running due to fear of injury. I also read many of the IM race reports on this website, which were an invaluable resource.

I arrived in CdA about 5 days before the race, nervous but incredibly excited. I swam in the lake every day, which was a good move as I discovered that my ears got sore with the low water temp - I ended up buying a swimming hood and earplugs, and had time to practice in them. I drove the course with my cheering squad (family) and enjoyed the local sights (the nearby town of Wallace is home to the center of the universe). We stayed at a great local B&B (Abbotswood House). I had a nice carbo-filled dinner the night before the race, and got to bed at about 8:30.

As an aside, one of my favorite things about IM race reports is reading about the things people do the night before the race, like waking up every 40 minutes to chug a bottle of Ensure. I think a good night's sleep is really important before these things, but hey, whatever works for you.

I woke up at 4:30, had some gatorade, coffee, and a bagel, and headed down to transition with my family. I got marked, put a concentrated bottle of Perpetuem on my bike, and took some pictures. The atmosphere of the crowd and anticipation of the event were just unbelievable. I spent a little too long with my family before getting into my wetsuit, so I had to rush down to the beach, and made it with a couple of minutes to spare.
Event warmup:

I didn't warmup because hey, it's an Ironman. I seeded myself in the second row on the middle left, where it seemed like there were fewer people than on the sides. I shook out my arms, jumped up and down a few times, and enjoyed the scene.
  • 1h 08m 38s
  • 4224 yards
  • 01m 26s / 100 yards

I could hear the music and the countdown, but the cannon was lost in the excitement. This swim was like none that I've ever done before. I used to play waterpolo, and it was kind of like a more crowded version of that. I knew going in that swimming was a strength and that it would help to get out early, and my seeding really helped with that. I got into a less crowded area and went out strong, so I actually had totally clear water for 100-200 yards. After that the faster people from either side closed in and the rest of the swim was mostly crowded, with some pockets of space. The turns were packed. It helped to find someone who was swimming relatively straight and just cruise behind them. I ended up with a cut above my eye after being kicked in the face on lap 2, but I know it was accidental and it didn't alter my performance.
What would you do differently?:

I was a few minutes off my target time, but with the crowd factored in I'm happy with my time and performance.
Transition 1
  • 06m 13s

My approach for T1 was to have everything well prepared but not rush too much. It's just a few minutes out of a long race (I skipped the hot tub though).

The wetsuit strippers did their magic, and I had my bike shorts on for the swim. I double checked that I had everything and made my way out to the bike.
What would you do differently?:

Nothing. I might try shaving time off in the future, but for this race I just wanted to be well prepared for the bike.
  • 6h 13m
  • 112 miles
  • 18.02 mile/hr

This was the hardest part of the race for me. I trained mostly at moderate pace going long distances, and I think in the future I will mix in some shorter, faster rides.

My nutrition plan was to consume 1 gel every 40 or so minutes, drink 2 bottles of perpetuem, and gatorade off the course, and this plan worked out very well. I had problems in a previous half-iron event due to not consuming enough calories on the bike (I don't feel hungry after swimming), but I forced it down. I packed 6 or so of my own gels in varying flavors and took more off the course. I skipped special needs and used the bathroom once when I saw a port-o-potty with no line.

The ride was going mostly how I had expected up until mile 83 or so, when disaster struck. I was not feeling too great mentally at that point, largely because I had been passed by what felt like most of the other racers, but I was on target to finish the bike around 6 hours, which had been a goal. I was riding down a hill with a left turn at the bottom, where the penalty box is, and realized too late that I was going too fast to make the turn. I think my tiredness was making me reckless, and another rider passed me on the inside as I was turning, forcing me to the outside (I don't blame them though, I should have slowed down). Anyway, I ate it. Hard. My bike slid out to my right and I fell on my left side. My shoes stayed clipped in so the bike fell mostly on top of me, which I suppose was good. I later found out that I had broken two bones in my wrist. The penalty officials helped me to my feet and wanted to call a medic, which I refused (I knew he would call the sag wagon).

The next 30 miles of riding were pretty terrible, as I was riding one-handed, bleeding on my side, and concerned about crashing again. My spirits were pretty low at that point, and I mostly stopped eating, which thankfully turned out ok. I hobbled my way back to town and was happy to finally dismount.
What would you do differently?:

Obviously not crash. I also generally need to work on my cycling - it is the worst of the 3 disciplines for me.
Transition 2
  • 03m 28s

This was fine for me. I took my time but had planned things out well. Changed my jersey, decided not to change my socks, grabbed a gel, and hit the run course.
What would you do differently?:

  • 4h 17m 43s
  • 26.2 miles
  • 09m 50s  min/mile

My spirits lifted almost immediately after starting the run, and I really started enjoying the race again. My wrist wasn't hurting nearly as much as it had on the bike, and I figured out that I could break 12 hours (my secret goal) if I didn't walk too much.

I fell into the pattern of walking each aid station, drinking two or three cups of gatorade at each, and a gel at every other. I had originally planned on walking less - maybe every other station - but it turned out to be a pretty hot day and I needed the time to get my fluids down. Between aid stations I kept a steady jog, doing about 9 minute miles, and tried to pace off of those around me.

The main thing that made the run enjoyable was the crowd, which was thick on parts of the course. Their excitement, and especially seeing my family, made the running a whole lot easier.

By the last lap I was quite tired, but I shuffled my way forward, always looking to the next aid station. I did my best to thank the volunteers and stopped for a bathroom break.

Heading down Sherman Ave. to the finish was a truly remarkable experience that I will always remember. The street was packed with people, and it seemed like all of them were cheering. I pumped my arms, slapped some hands, and enjoyed every second. My family was lining the finishing chute screaming their heads off, and I raised my arms and crossed the line.
What would you do differently?:

I was happy with my time on the run, but in the future this is a place where I will want to shave some time off. I would like to be able to run without walking the aid stations, but I will have to practice not spilling gatorade all over myself. I will probably do more speed work in the future as well.
Post race
Warm down:

Got my picture taken, assured the kind volunteers that I probably wouldn't fall, and headed to medical to get patched up. I got a massage after that. Sometime soon after I finished the bottom of my foot started hurting really badly (I think it was a partial tear of my plantar fascia).

One of my goals had been to finish before they ran out of pizza, and I accomplished this but didn't feel ready for solid food. I found my family and made my way back to the B&B.

Though I certainly hit a low point during the race, it was mostly highs. I am really happy with the experience.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Breaking my wrist slowed me down, and I could use more short and fast or interval workouts. Overall though I was really happy with how I did; I surprised myself and that's always nice.

Profile Album

Last updated: 2009-11-21 12:00 AM
01:08:38 | 4224 yards | 01m 26s / 100yards
Age Group: 15/48
Overall: 363/
Performance: Good
Suit: xterra sleeveless w/ zoot hood
Start type: Run Plus:
Water temp: 0F / 0C Current:
200M Perf. Good Remainder: Good
Breathing: Good Drafting: Average
Waves: Average Navigation: Good
Rounding: Below average
Time: 06:13
Cap removal: Good Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? No Run with bike: Yes
Jump on bike: No
Getting up to speed: Average
06:13:00 | 112 miles | 18.02 mile/hr
Age Group: 25/48
Overall: 877/
Performance: Below average
Wind: Some
Course: 2 loops out and back
Road: Smooth Dry Cadence:
Turns: Bad Cornering: Bad
Gear changes: Good Hills: Average
Race pace: Comfortable Drinks: Just right
Time: 03:28
Overall: Good
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike
Racking bike
Shoe and helmet removal
04:17:43 | 26.2 miles | 09m 50s  min/mile
Age Group: 14/48
Overall: 469/
Performance: Good
Course: two loops through town and on lake
Keeping cool Average Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Good
Mental exertion [1-5] 4
Physical exertion [1-5] 4
Good race? Yes
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Good
Race evaluation [1-5] 5