Ironman Coeur d'Alene - TriathlonFull Ironman

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Coeur d'Alene, Idaho
United States
World Triathlon Corporation
72F / 22C
Total Time = 15h 31m 32s
Overall Rank = 1873/
Age Group = F30-34
Age Group Rank = 96/
Pre-race routine:

Steve and I started our drive up on Sunday, and made it into a really nice road trip. We camped in Yosemite and took a very scenic route up Hwy 395 through northeast CA and eastern Oregon, arriving in Coeur d'Alene on Wed. Fortunately my mom had scored us a relatively cheap rental house that was only about a 10 minute walk from Sherman Ave. and the Ironman village. That afternoon I went for a run, and then Steve and I had dinner and a few beers at Capone's. On Thursday I checked in and took my bike for a quick spin. Friday I got in the water (brrrrrrr) and we picked up Mom, Tracy and Tom at the airport. Saturday I placed my bike and gear bags, went for a very short run, re-tweaked my hip while stretching afterward, and spent the rest of the day trying not to freak out about that and the weather forecast, which called for more thunderstorms.
Event warmup:

Got up around 4:45, looked at (and freaked out about) the weather forecast, and force-fed myself some water, coffee, and waffles. Steve and I walked down to the transition area where I pumped my tires and opted not to check on my gear bags, since I had already spent most of the previous day obsessing over their contents. The rest of my family and my mom's friend joined us on the grassy area near the beach, where I put on my wetsuit and took some pictures. Fortunately, the weather forecast had improved, so I was able to stop worrying about it. Finally at about 6:40 I decided it was time to head down to the start, but I didn't realize how far down the beach it was and how difficult it would be to get there. I got stuck in a single file line of athletes who were trying to work their way through the crowd. It was extremely frustrating, and at times we were in complete gridlock, not moving at all, but finally at about 6:53 I found myself on the beach. Being a short person, I could barely see where I was in the massive crowd, so I just decided to stay where I was for the start. I'm pretty sure I started in the dead center of the pack.
  • 1h 29m 51s
  • 4224 yards
  • 02m 08s / 100 yards

The water was cold, probably in the high 50s, but didn't feel quite as bad as it had been during my practice swim two days earlier. The first couple hundred yards were crowded, but people were pretty much just getting in and moving forward at that point. However, since the mass of athletes on the beach had been very wide and not very deep, soon enough everyone who had started on the right started moving to the left, trying to get closer to the line of buoys. At that point, things started to get ugly. I got hit in the face, head, arms, and legs, kicked in the ribs, chest, nose, basically just beat up from head to toe. It was downright violent, and the contact never let up until the second half of the second loop. During the second loop, the chop on the lake surface increased dramatically, which resulted in about 5 extra minutes for that loop. Also, my hip was hurting, so I tried to keep my kicking to a minimum. Between my hip, all the contact, and the waves, it was really hard to get into my usual rhythm for pretty much the entire swim. I was just happy that my goggles stayed on my face, my chip strap stayed on my ankle, I didn't get injured, and didn't drink too much lake water.
What would you do differently?:

Nothing. I managed to stay calm, didn't get hurt, and didn't burn up too much energy, so I didn't really care that my time was a bit slower than I thought it would be.
Transition 1
  • 13m 30s

I had been worried that my calves and feet would cramp because of the cold, but they were ok. I did have some vertigo, and my hands weren't functioning very well. On the way to the wetsuit strippers I took off my cap and goggles, and in the 5 seconds they were on the ground while my wetsuit was being pulled off, someone took them. A volunteer tried to get them back for me but she never caught up to the person who took them. I grabbed my bag and went to the changing tent, where I decided to put on my jersey instead of a tri top, since it was cloudy and cold. A super nice volunteer helped me pull on my arm warmers, gloves and shoes. I ran to my bike, and my family was right there taking pictures. I hung out for a few seconds, telling them about the swim while I tried to adjust my arm warmers, and soon enough I was out of there.
What would you do differently?:

This was the first race where I opted to do a complete change from a swimsuit to a bike shorts and jersey. It turned out to be a good choice because of the cold weather, and because I needed some time to recover from the vertigo and regain the use of my hands. It was by far my longest transition ever, but everything worked out fine.
  • 7h 42m 4s
  • 112 miles
  • 14.54 mile/hr

I was still very cold from the swim, so I took it very easy for several miles while I warmed up. I had started the ride with a single bottle of coconut water, and I picked up a water bottle at the first aid station. I settled into a comfortable pace, had a gel or Honey Stinger waffle every 45 minutes or so, and didn't worry about getting passed by what seemed like the entire field. I felt very relaxed and had plenty of energy during the entire first loop. The climbs were no problem, and the course was rather pleasant, with nice pavement and pretty scenery. It did seem like it took forever to get to the turnaround on Hwy 95, but the way back was mostly downhill, and before I knew it I was back in town, starting the second loop.

Shortly after mile 60, I stopped at special needs and refilled my bento box with Honey Stinger gels and a Larabar, and refilled my bottle with coconut water. The sun had finally come out, and a few miles later I pulled over again to take off my arm warmers. Things were going well, or so I thought. Around mile 70, I started to lose a bit of energy and my first big mistake reared its ugly head. I had been taking one salt pill per hour, but since it was cold I had allowed myself to fall behind on my hydration. At this point, even though I had been on the bike for well over 4 hours, I had only drank about 40 oz of fluids. My hamstrings began to cramp, so I took 2 salt pills in quick succession and forced down a bunch of fluids. The cramps went away, but for the next half hour or so I felt nauseous and had kind of a panicky adrenaline feeling, which was really unpleasant. I was climbing for a lot of this time, so I just focused on moving forward and staying calm. It worked, and by the time I hit the second turnaround I was feeling much better. Unfortunately I made the same mistake (under-hydrating) on the way back into town, but that didn't become a problem until the run. I was extremely relieved that my hip pain was nonexistent during the entire ride.
What would you do differently?:

Drink more. I had a fairly well structured plan for nutrition, but not hydration, and just drinking to thirst apparently doesn't work well for me. Everything else was good - I paced myself conservatively, and successfully dealt with my cramps.
Transition 2
  • 07m 8s

At the dismount line, I handed my bike off to a volunteer and said something to the effect of "get it away from me!!" I didn't think I had a bad ride, but after over 7 and a half hours I was really ready to be done. I got my bag and went in the tent, where I again did a complete change, this time into tri shorts and a fresh short-sleeved shirt. Another awesome volunteer slathered my problem areas with bodyglide and helped me put on my socks and shoes. After a pit stop and some water, I was ready to go.
What would you do differently?:

Nothing, I did what I needed to do and didn't waste too much time.
  • 5h 59m 58s
  • 26.2 miles
  • 13m 44s  min/mile

At this time I must make 2 confessions - I was undertrained for the run, and while I had a nutrition plan on the bike, my plan for the run was just to wing it and take whatever I wanted at the aid stations like I always do at half IMs. I figured it was unlikely that I would be able to run the entire time, but I started off jogging at a manageable pace and felt fine for awhile. Initially I was just so happy to be off the bike. I saw my sister at the mile 1 aid station where she had just finished her volunteer shift, and talked to her briefly while still on the go. Steve was working the mile 2 aid station, but I didn't see him. I grabbed one cup at each of the first 3 aid stations, alternating water and Ironman Perform, and things went ok until just after mile 3.

At that point, I started to notice the early symptoms of dehydration, which I was all too familiar with after my meltdown at Wildflower a couple months ago. I was starting to feel a bit light-headed, nauseous, and noticed I was sweating very minimally. I stopped running, and walked until the mile 4 aid station, where I took a salt pill, ate chips, and drank Perform, Coke and 2 full cups of water. A short time later I was feeling much better, though rather full and bloated, and I was able to start running again. At that point I formulated my strategy - I would run between aid stations, walk each aid station, and take in at least one cup of water, alternate Coke and Perform, and take a salt pill every 3rd or 4th aid station. This worked very well. Soon the nausea had passed, and my pace improved on the way back into town.

I only had one thing in my run special needs bag - a bottle of coconut water. I do love cold coconut water, but after forcing down a liter and a half of warm coconut water on the bike, drinking yet another bottle that had been sitting in the sun all day did not sound appealing. However, I knew I would benefit from it, so I took it. Right after the turnaround I heard shouting behind me, and Tracy and Tom were sitting in a bar. Tracy asked me how I was feeling, and I shouted back "I'm hurting but I'm going to finish!!" She didn't hear me, but a bunch of college students lining the street did, and they cheered loudly, "YEAH YOU ARE!!! WOOOOOHOOOO!!!!"

I started winding my way back through the streets, increasingly in pain, but sticking to my plan. My hip was starting to nag a tiny bit, but at that point my legs (especially the troublesome right one) were screaming, so it just blended in with the rest of the pain. Overall I was doing ok, and I mostly ran and walked some as the miles ticked by. I knew I was going to make it, and I knew I had time, so I just focused on not making any big mistakes. At one point I started to lose energy rapidly, so I took out the gel I had been keeping in my pocket and forced it down. Around mile 16, I took my first cups of broth. Up to that moment it had sounded so gross, but suddenly it was the most glorious thing ever.

Finally I reached the turnaround for the second time, and on the way back up the hill I had to do some walking. My right knee was hurting, and both of my hamstrings felt really tight. Sometimes I would feel a slight buzzing sensation in my hands, and when that happened I would walk for a bit until the feeling went away. I really wanted to be done though, so I ran as much as I could. A few times I contemplated running through an aid station, but I knew I needed to keep forcing down calories, electrolytes and water. On the way back into town it got really dark, and while I had a glow stick wrapped around my visor so I could be seen, I couldn't really see anything. After mile 23 my feet were killing me and my legs were extremely tight, so I walked a lot of mile 24 and 25.

During the last mile I could hear Mike Reilly at the finish line. He still sounded far away, but one moment I was on a dark, quiet street, and the next, I was on Sherman. It was brightly lit, downhill, and lined with cheering spectators. I picked up the pace, and peered down the street in front of me. I couldn't see very well because my eyes were extremely irritated and my prescription sunglasses were sitting on top of my visor, but I kept running, and suddenly I was in the finish chute. Words cannot describe the feeling - I think it was relief mixed with pure joy. As I ran I high-fived spectators in the grandstands on the right, then veered over to the left for more high-fives, then ran toward the finish line and finally heard the words I had been waiting to hear for the last 4-plus years: "Robin Pritchard, you are an Ironman!"
What would you do differently?:

I think the only mistake I made was under-hydrating at the end of the bike and at the beginning of the run, but I'm happy that I was able to recover from that mistake.
Post race
Warm down:

My finish line catcher asked me if I was ok (I was), gave me a bottle of water, and guided me over to chip removal and finisher swag. Once I had everything, I found my family, took some pictures and excitedly recounted some of the events of the day. After a few minutes I decided I needed food NOW, so I grabbed a few slices of pizza. My awesome family had already hauled all my stuff back to the house, so we made the short walk back. I showered, did some quick checking in with excited friends and family, then put on compression socks and went to bed. I slept extremely well for about 6 hours, and when I woke up I realized it hadn't been a dream. I was an Ironman!!

What limited your ability to perform faster:

As usual I could have done a better job of planning and executing my training, and I had to work around a few minor setbacks, but the training I did was good enough to get me to my goal of finishing an Ironman!

Event comments:

I seriously want to live in Coeur d'Alene, it is such a beautiful and fun town!! The atmosphere was amazing. Also, this was my first WTC race, and I have to say that they put on a top notch event.

I know that if I put in the time and effort I could improve at this distance, and that possibility is tempting. However, IM is an all-consuming endeavor, and there are other things I want to focus on for the time being. If I ever do another IM, it will probably be at least a few years from now, but in the meantime I want to get faster at shorter distance tris, and I would like to do more hiking, backpacking, and trail running. I might be talked into doing a 50k later this year - who knows!!

Profile Album

Last updated: 2011-07-31 12:00 AM
01:29:51 | 4224 yards | 02m 08s / 100yards
Age Group: 73/
Overall: 1623/
Performance: Average
Suit: XTerra Vortex 3 full
Course: Beach start, 2 counter-clockwise loops in Lake Coeur d'Alene with a short beach run in between.
Start type: Run Plus: Shot
Water temp: 58F / 14C Current: Medium
200M Perf. Average Remainder: Below average
Breathing: Average Drafting: Below average
Waves: Navigation: Average
Rounding: Below average
Time: 13:30
Performance: Below average
Cap removal: Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Run with bike:
Jump on bike:
Getting up to speed:
07:42:04 | 112 miles | 14.54 mile/hr
Age Group: 84/
Overall: 1920/
Performance: Average
Wind: Some
Course: 2 loops, first out and back along the lake shore east of town, then back through town, followed by a longer out-and-back on Hwy 95. The Hwy 95 section had quite a few climbs, some of them rather long.
Road: Smooth Dry Cadence:
Turns: Average Cornering: Average
Gear changes: Good Hills: Good
Race pace: Comfortable Drinks: Not enough
Time: 07:08
Overall: Average
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike
Racking bike
Shoe and helmet removal
05:59:58 | 26.2 miles | 13m 44s  min/mile
Age Group: 96/
Overall: 1873/
Performance: Below average
Course: Mostly flat with one decent hill, out-and-back mostly along the lake shore, 2 loops.
Keeping cool Good Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Average
Mental exertion [1-5] 5
Physical exertion [1-5] 4
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