Ironman Coeur d'Alene - TriathlonFull Ironman

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Coeur d'Alene, Idaho
United States
Ironman North America
80F / 27C
Total Time = 15h 41m 50s
Overall Rank = 1875/2263
Age Group = M35-39
Age Group Rank = 283/327
Pre-race routine:

Since when is waking up for a race at 3:00am ever a good idea. I at least managed to get to bed before 9:00pm the night before. When I got up from that too comfortable bed, I went to the bathroom I shared with my housemates and splashed some very cold water on my face to wake up the senses. Little did I know that bit of water on my face was going to be the warmest of the day. I had a race breakfast consisting of a couple Clif bars, some cereal bars, a banana, a mug of tea, and a couple bottles of Gatorade.

I drove down to the lake and managed to snag a parking spot near the transition. Upon my arrival at the lot, I found parking would be $5 for the day. Not having $5, I went around Sherman Ave. looking for a place to exchange my $10 bill for a pair of $5 bills. A nice local was kind enough to make change for me and off I went back to shove that $5 bill into the little pay slot.
Event warmup:

Warmup? What warmup? About the only warmup I got in was my walk in search of change, setting up my bike, trying to get through the crush of athletes and spectators to drop off my morning clothes bag, squeezing into my wetsuit, and heading down to the swim start.
  • 1h 56m 52s
  • 4224 yards
  • 02m 46s / 100 yards

Ah, the infamous Ironman washing machine. I thought I could manage to avoid much of the scrum by starting in the back and a little to the outside for a straighter line to the turn buoy. Apparently, everybody had the bright idea to also head a bit wider out to the turn. I was able to pick up feet, only to lose them after a few strokes. My navigation was so bad on the swim out I zig-zagged my way up the buoy line and probably swam an extra 200 or 300 meters.

And the cold water. Coming from Hawaii where wetsuit swims are iffy even in the winter, the water was downright bone-chilling. Once I'd gotten through the first swim out, I began to feel better knowing I could at least catch some of the wind-driven chop back to shore. Sure enough, I was able to swim with the waves whenever they presented themselves. Then I had to go back in the water.

By this time, the chop had gotten a lot more active and I started to swallow some lake water. On my final out leg, a trio of things conspired to slow me down even more. The first occurred about halfway up the course when I got a nasty kick to the top of my head. Getting that concussed feeling isn't good in water even if I could have floated on my back all day in the wetsuit. About another hundred meters later, I sighted only to find myself once again heading to the right and away from the buoy line. It was during this sighting that I suffered a cramp to my right calf. Dammit, this is going to slow me down even more. With a major course correction and an annoyed calf, I began swimming a direct line to the far turn buoy and came upon a fellow breaststroking his way along the course. With a few easy flutter kicks, my calf cramp began working its way loose and I began to power ahead of the breaststroker.

On my final turn heading back in, I once again strove to catch as many waves to help me along as I could. It worked. I felt good on my return leg except for making the big mistake of trying to count the number of orange buoys left. With only a quarter mile left, I'd pause to sight only to get that sinking feeling. "I've got another buoy? Where's the damn shore?" Well I eventually made it in with less than 25 minutes to spare. And was it sweet relief to finally cross that timing mat.
What would you do differently?:

Take really cold showers in the wetsuit. Seriously, I don't think there's much I could really do to simulate the cold conditions especially in Hawaii. Getting swims in at the course venue and experiencing those temperatures told me to use a neoprene cap which I did for the race and training swim the day before. I know how everyone says that a wetsuit should make you faster, but I didn't experience it. A fellow competitor joked with me the next day when I told him I was from Hawaii. "You should have done the swim without the wetsuit," he kidded. "Maybe," I told him, "it would have motivated me to swim faster to get out of that water faster."
Transition 1
  • 06m 53s

Coming out of that water, I needed a stripper bad. My hands weren't quite working yet and I was fumbling around with my goggles, Emilio DeSoto's neoprene cap sandwich idea, and earplugs. A couple of lovely ladies came to my rescue. They got that wetsuit off of me with only some minor protestation from the suit not wanting to slip of my left foot. Once they handed my my suit, I was sent off to my fetch my now very lonely gear bag. Into the change tent I went and quickly got on my bike socks, shoes, gloves, newly purchased Coeur d'Alene jersey, and helmet. I had debated prior to turning in my gear bag on Saturday if I should use my aero-helmet. I had decided that if the temperature was forecast for the eighties, I'd use my regular helmet. So that's what I did. Kit on, I headed out to my lonely bike with a brief stop for some sunscreen. That done, I hopped on the bike and was off. Little did I know then that sunscreen stop would come to haunt me on the bike.
What would you do differently?:

Fast transition for an Ironman? I don't know since this was my first Ironman. Looking at the results sheet, it does seem to fall nicely in line at the average to somewhat faster than average time. I've got to practice getting that wetsuit off as fast as possible. In all my training with the suit, it always seems to get caught on one or both of my feet even with glide.
  • 7h 14m 3s
  • 112 miles
  • 15.48 mile/hr

"Good lord, what a great venue to have a bike course." At least that's what I said at the end of the first lap. Not a couple of days before I left for Coeur d'Alene, I watched the Race Day Execution 2-part video on the site. I wish my ride mantra "Don't cook your legs! Don't cook your legs!" had stuck with me. Instead it was "Don't cook your legs!" as I climbed up a hill and, in a Homer Simpson drool moment at the crest, "Mmmmm, downhill." as I powered the descents and tried to zip my way up that next hill.

You should be able to guess by now what happened on the next loop. Those hills were now punishing me for my stupidity. Where I had gone up at a hill at 10mph to 12mph earlier, I was now in my lowest gear struggling to hold even 5mph or 6mph. Add in the southerly wind off the lake beginning to pick up in the afternoon and it made for a bad second lap.

Remember when I said the sunscreen stop in T1 would haunt me on the bike? Well, early on my first lap, I used my right hand to rub off some sunscreen that got on the face of my watch. Not long after I rubbed my right eye with that same hand. Over the course of the first lap, my right eye became increasingly irritated and my vision in that eye started to blur. At first I thought it was my glasses but realized it couldn't have been because my right eye vision was blurred without looking through my glasses. The realization that it was probably sunscreen that caused my blurry vision came to me during the marathon where my eye eventually regained normal visual acuity.

All in all, even though I didn't do the ride I should have done, I have to say I had a lot of fun out on the course chatting with my fellow riders and hearing the cheers of the volunteers and spectators.
What would you do differently?:

Take it easy because it's gonna be a long day. I'd gladly give up fifteen minutes on the first lap to keep my legs fresher for the second lap and the run. I thought I'd done enough climbing during my training, but I'd probably swap four or five of my flatter rides for time in the hills. I may even go to a compact crank even though I ride a 650c bike. I almost forgot but don't rub my eyes with a hand that has sunscreen on it.
Transition 2
  • 07m

Once again I was off to retrieve my lonely gear bag. A volunteer quickly handed it to me and I shuffled into the change tent. Looks like my time was seven seconds slower than T1. Porta-potty use cost me at least a minute draining my bladder. And I lost another minute or two resting on one of the change tent chairs. In the end, I swapped my bike socks for more cushioned run socks, my jersey for a long-sleeved tech tee, and put on my run cap.
What would you do differently?:

I'd have skipped using the tech tee if I knew I was going to finish while it was still daylight out. Use an on-course porta-potty instead of the one in transition.
  • 6h 17m 3s
  • 26.2 miles
  • 14m 23s  min/mile

Going into the marathon, I had a plan to run ten minutes, walk one minute, and to walk the aid stations regardless of whether I was in my run window. It quickly became apparent after reaching the first timing mat that my 10 minute run window was not going to work. By the mile 3 marker, I'd been reduced to running for a minute and walking ten minutes. By the time I reached Mullan Ave., I was almost exclusively walking. It seemed like forever when I finally reached to turnaround at Bennett Bay Hill.

About 25 meters heading back down the hill, I'd caught up to a guy named Jerry from Arizona. We started up a conversation and decided to run the downhill grades on our way back to start the second lap. We walked between those downhill grades and taking in liquids and food at the aid stations while thanking the volunteers for taking care of us slow people. Jerry and I had very brief spurts of running to start the second lap until we reached the aid station after the turnaround on Rosenberry.

It was after this aid station that we walked the rest of the marathon until reaching Sherman Ave. for the finish. All during that second lap Jerry and I would tell each other, as we passed each mile marker, that we could walk even slower than we were moving and still make it in under 17 hours. Of course we did our best to keep to the roughly 13- to 15-minute per mile pace we had been walking.

On the hill to the final turnaround, I muttered to Jerry, "This hill sure feels steeper than I remembered. Where's the turnaround again?" After the turnaround, we knew we only had to go 10K. We kept moving forward one step at a time. At 25 miles, Jerry thanked me for keeping him company as he was sure he'd have just dropped out at an aid station earlier instead of finishing the race. I was a bit taken aback as I was going to thank him for keeping my spirits up as I trudged my way to the finish. With that I told him to run ahead to the finish as we made the turn on 7th St. Jerry would finish a couple minutes ahead of me.

I then began my final run down Sherman Ave. and was filled with the energy of the crowd even though my legs were killing me. I crossed that finish line with my arms raised in triumph and a smile on my face. In the raucousness of the finishing chute I barely even recall hearing Mike Reilly call out my name and say, "You are an Ironman!"
What would you do differently?:

There's only one thing I needed to do differently. I simply needed to pace myself better on the bike to have a better run.
Post race
Warm down:

After the finish, I got my swag and did the finisher photo thing. I headed down to the massage tent and added myself to the list of people needing a massage. I grabbed some surprisingly not cold pizza and met my fellow housemate and BTer, Jay. Thanks for cheering me to the finish. While waiting at the massage tent for my number to be called, I got a chance to talk with a few of my fellow athletes about their day. On my way to picking up my gear, I was stopped for a quick interview with a local television reporter. I don't know if it ever made it on air. I picked up my gear and packed it into my car before heading back to the finish line to cheer on the final official finishers.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

There were a couple of things that really stood out for me that held me back from my full potential during the race. First was the swim. The cold water certainly didn't help. I'm used to water temps consistently in the 78+ degree range. A lake open water swim is extremely different from a saltwater open ocean swim. Saltwater just plain feels different from freshwater. Lake chop is inconsistent unlike the waves that I encountered during my training swims. The second was the bike. The experienced say not to push on the bike. Why didn't I listen to them and myself? If I had I might have been able to conserve something for the marathon and possibly run closer to 5 hours.

Event comments:

This was my first Ironman and I'm extremely happy that I chose Coeur d'Alene. All the local spectators and volunteers really make this race. I was just amazed at how welcome they made me feel. Not once did I hear a complaint from the locals although I'm sure there are some that don't like having the race. The next day people were even asking me how I did. I've been a spectator at Kona and you just don't realize how hard an Ironman really is until you've gone through the fire. My hats off to my fellow first-timers and the racers that willingly put themselves through this year after year. I don't know if I'll ever do another Ironman outside of the remotest chance of Kona. If I do, I'll just have to come back to Coeur d'Alene. A beautiful venue, an awesome crowd, and incredible volunteers. Who could ask for more?

Profile Album

Last updated: 2010-06-26 12:00 AM
01:56:52 | 4224 yards | 02m 46s / 100yards
Age Group: 323/327
Overall: 2189/2263
Performance: Below average
Suit: Xterra Vector Pro
Course: Two rectangular loops out in Lake Coeur d'Alene.
Start type: Wade Plus:
Water temp: 61F / 16C Current: Low
200M Perf. Below average Remainder: Bad
Breathing: Good Drafting: Below average
Waves: Good Navigation: Below average
Rounding: Good
Time: 06:53
Performance: Good
Cap removal: Average Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Yes Run with bike:
Jump on bike:
Getting up to speed:
07:14:03 | 112 miles | 15.48 mile/hr
Age Group: 291/327
Overall: 1794/2263
Performance: Below average
Wind: Some
Course: Two loop course along the lake and out into the rolling hills and farmland and back into town.
Road: Smooth Dry Cadence:
Turns: Good Cornering: Good
Gear changes: Average Hills: Below average
Race pace: Hard Drinks: Just right
Time: 07:00
Overall: Good
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike
Racking bike
Shoe and helmet removal Good
06:17:03 | 26.2 miles | 14m 23s  min/mile
Age Group: 266/327
Overall: 1858/2263
Performance: Below average
Course: Two laps running through downtown Coeur d'Alene and along Centennial Trail next to the lake.
Keeping cool Good Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Average
Mental exertion [1-5] 3
Physical exertion [1-5] 2
Good race? Ok
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