Ironman Coeur d'Alene - TriathlonFull Ironman

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Coeur d'Alene, Idaho
United States
Ironman North America
75F / 24C
Total Time = 11h 36m 22s
Overall Rank = 452/2200
Age Group = 40-44
Age Group Rank = 101/474
Pre-race routine:

Got up at 4:00 and mixed up my bottles (Powerade Zero and Carbo-Pro). Ate a banana, loaded up and headed over to Starbucks to meet up with Conrad and Heather at 5:00. Had some coffee and a Clif Bar. Got dropped off at the college and walked the few blocks to the park. I got marked and entered transition. Installed nutrition / hydration, Garmin, seat bag, CO2 and inflater. Borrowed a pump, inflated tires and took a salt tab. Went to drop off Bike Special Needs bag. Used restroom, changed into wetsuit, dropped off Morning Clothes bag and headed down to the beach with caps, goggles, a banana and some Shot Bloks. I was wearing some throwaway socks to keep my feet warm. It didn't look too crowded over by the stage, so I just walked over to the far left, ate my Bloks, took off my socks (I gave my banana away) and waded out into the water.
Event warmup:

Got in the water and paddled around a bit. Stretched out while waiting for the gun. I saw Rachel (gymgirl X) and I gave her a hug and wished her a Happy Birthday. Watched the lead pros make the turn and listened to the young girl sing the National Anthem. I was right next to the stage, looking up. I kept an eye on the time and got my stopwatch ready to go. After a little bit more of a wait, the gun went off and we headed into the water.
  • 1h 16m 24s
  • 4224 yards
  • 01m 49s / 100 yards

Started right next to the stage, on the buoy line, about 5 or 6 rows back. There was contact, but it wasn't too bad. I just figured that everyone was going to get hit and I might as well swim the straightest route to the turn buoy. Got kicked once in the chops and once in the goggles. Traded accidental blows a bunch of times, but never anything intentional or malicious. The most dangerous blows were from people taking a break and breast stroking - gotta watch those frog kicks.

The water felt a bit cold for a while, but not terrible and soon the temperature was a non-factor. There were smaller yellow buoys every 100 meters or so and sighting was not an issue. I took on some water from time to time with the contact and swells. I could sense some odd stiffness in my quads (usually I get calf cramps) and I could tell that I would need to use the porta-potty after the swim (probably should have just let it go right then).

It was very congested at the first turn and I was vertical for a while - the washing machine analogy definitely applied here. I could hear the lifeguards yelling, but I couldn't tell whether they were directing traffic or hollering and laughing at the carnage. It was pretty rough out there. I knew we'd make our way across eventually, but there was no racing at this point. It was a good opportunity to catch my breath and try to spot the next red turn buoy. It seemed that it was a bit off to the right, but perhaps my sense of direction was off. Regardless, everyone seemed to be heading too far left after the first turn, so I think the lifeguards may have been shouting "Keep Right!"

After rounding the second red turn buoy, I caught a glimpse of a female swimmer off my left shoulder. She was breathing right (looking at me) and looked a lot like my friend Karen. I checked under the water and sure enough, she was wearing an Xterra Vector Pro. Same goggles. But she was looking right at me and didn't say anything, so I thought it must not be her. I later found out that she was just 1 or 2 minutes behind me on the first loop and her overall swim split was 30 seconds off of mine, so I would bet it was her.

The rest of the swim was pretty uneventful. Heading back towards the beach for the first time, it didn't feel like we had been out there all that long. I touched sand, stood up and took a split: 35-something. I also heard someone yell, "35!" I made the turn and waded back into the water, dunked my goggles and dove in for the second loop.

It was considerably less congested the second time around and I had to pay more attention to sighting since I wasn't following someone the whole time. At least I didn't struggle with visibility issues. For the first time in a while, I could see clearly above and below water for the whole swim. I am very relieved to have finally found a pair of goggles that work for me!

I could tell I was a bit more tired on the second lap and I tried to focus on efficiency, but I think that just made me slower. I told myself, "don't think, just swim." The only real issue seemed to be that my quads were sore. It was odd. Not cramping (and no calf cramps on this swim, thank goodness), but just an odd tightness.

I counted down buoys, made the turn, headed towards the right (this time the lifeguards were definitely shouting "Keep Right!"), made the second turn and counted down more buoys. After finishing the first loop in 35 minutes, I thought I would be coming in around 1:10 and I was a bit disappointed to see a 41 for the second loop, but a 1:16 wasn't too far off from my estimate of where I thought I would be. I figured I could make up some time in transition - except that I had to pee.
What would you do differently?:

I don't know...swim faster? Train more in the pool, I guess. Swimming is by far my weakest of the three disciplines. I don't really enjoy it - unless it's a leisurely open water swim without a wetsuit. I've reluctantly joined a masters program, so hopefully my swim will improve. I was hoping to be 1:10 and figured a 1:15 was realistic, so 1:16 seems about right. The first loop was probably faster since I was in the pack and hit every buoy pretty much dead on. I weaved a bit on the second loop, trying to keep my head down and focus on technique. I was a little off on the orange buoys on the way back - sometimes passing on the right, sometimes on the left. I also should have relieved myself on the last leg of the swim.
Transition 1
  • 06m 14s

Got out of the water and ran up to the wetsuit stripping area. Got the suit unzipped and made eye contact with a stripper who helped me out of the sleeves. I dropped down and he yanked off the suit and helped me up. I thanked him and headed towards my row of bike bags. Transition was pretty crowded, so I grabbed my own bag and headed towards the change tent. I didn't know the drill and the tent looked very crowded. I saw people changing outside of the tent, so I decided to do the same. Right then, Conrad came up and said "Hey Mike" and we went about our business at the opening of the tent. ("The Real") Brian Long was there, too. I packed up my swim stuff, asked a volunteer what to do with the bag ("just leave it!") and headed AROUND the tent towards the bikes. Whoops. Back around, through the tent, across the basketball court, shoes in hand (I wanted to run on the wet grass in cycling shoes for the shortest time possible). I passed up on the sunscreen, used the porta-potty, put on my shoes (no socks) and headed towards my row of bikes. Grabbed my bike, turned on the Garmin and ran out.
What would you do differently?:

Run into the change tent! Leave the bike computer turned on before heading to the swim start. I was just concerned about how long the battery would last and I figured it would be about 8 hours until I finished both the swim and bike.

I guess I could shave a couple of minutes - definitely go sub-5:00 in T1 - if I didn't run around in circles outside the tent and have to stop at the porta-potty.

A practice walkthrough of transition would have helped.

Handle the "natural" break earlier so as not to have to stop at the porta-potty.
  • 5h 38m 12s
  • 112 miles
  • 19.87 mile/hr

Mounted the bike on the fly and headed out. Energy level felt great, but my quads felt sore. We did an easy ride of the run course on Friday (ended up going all of the way out to the bike turnaround at Higgins Point). I felt good on the preview ride, but the next day when I was riding just the one mile (downhill) to bike check, it felt like work. I did run two miles easy on Saturday morning, so that may have had something to do with it.

Riding through town, the Garmin still hadn't connected to satellites, so that was a bit of an annoyance, and I was concerned about my stiff quads. I was thinking perhaps it wasn't going to be my day. Then my seatpost dropped.

I've had a lot of trouble with it in the past. It had slipped a bit on our preview ride, so I stopped by the Specialized trailer on Saturday to have them look at it just before racking my bike (Desiree Ficker was there tinkering with her bike). Jeff, the Specialized guy recommended some friction paste, but didn't have any. He sent me off in search of the FSA booth. They happened to have on packet of it and I came back to the Specialized trailer. I applied the paste and tightened down the assembly. Jeff said they sometimes cut the post so that it bottoms out at the right height and then just leave it there. Great. Mine has already been cut down by my LBS. I did check and saw that when it bottomed out, the most it would drop would be a little more than an inch. Not ideal, but not catastrophic. My mom had asked if I wanted to go test it out, but I had already checked my Bike Gear with my helmet and shoes. I didn't know if we could get back in and access them, so I just racked my bike. Big mistake! For the record, I HATE THE SPECIALIZED TRANSITION SEATPOST!!! It has now dropped in at least 3 races, including two HIMs and now my first IM.

Ok, so back to the race...

I was contemplating stopping, but I didn't have a tool on the bike (I had checked it in my Morning Gear bag). I looked down and saw that the seatpost had indeed bottomed out, so it was about an inch lower than where it should be. I figured if it became an issue I would stop at special needs or anytime I saw an idle mechanical wagon, but I never dealt with it. I just left it alone for the whole ride. I don't think it really affected my bike time all that much, but I wasn't able to maintain as high of a cadence as I normally do. I was bouncing around too much if I got up over 90 rpm and I just knew that I would be miserable after 5+ hours of that. My average cadence for the 112 miles was 80. Not too bad considering there are some steep hills, but I'm usually up around 90 on my long rides, regardless of terrain, so something was off.

I also ended up standing on every hill (despite upsizing my cassette to an 11-28). I just hate spinning and I'm terrible at it. Probably another reason my cadence was low. I was grinding a lot.

I think I kept up with my hydration and sodium intake. I stopped to pee (again!) at special needs and things were still clear. A volunteer had valeted my bike, which was nice, but when I got back on, my chain was off. Back off the bike, chain back on and hit the road. A minute or two total for the stop. No biggie.

Good news was my quads had loosened up on the first loop and while the hills on the second loop felt harder, the bike course felt manageable. As I tend to do, I stood as soon as I felt like I was losing my momentum. Still, it was a relief to have a few more bailout gears than a 23.

The worst part was the last stretch back to town into the wind. My bike was making noises and I was just looking forward to getting off of it. I ate a few more Bloks out of my feed box, drank as much as I could and put the baggie with the remaining Bloks and salt tabs in a pocket in my tri top. This would turn out to be a savior.

I made the turn onto the out & back section on Northwest Blvd., hit the turnaround and cruised back towards transition. I got out of my shoes, one leg up and over, and handed off the bike to a volunteer - one of the things that went perfectly. Legs felt ok running towards the tent. A volunteer had my bag, I checked to be sure it was the right one and headed into the tent.
What would you do differently?:

Figure out the seatpost issue.

Eat more. I only took in about 300 liquid calories from my two rear Carbo-Pro bottles (one was still half-full after the race) and about 800-900 from Shot Bloks, so maybe 1200 total calories on the bike. My burn was probably between 2,500-3,000 for the 5+ hours. I didn't plan to replenish what I would burn swimming for more than an hour (500-600) and I didn't eat until about 45 minutes into the ride. Both rear bottles were still full at Special Needs so I didn't stop for the two bottles I had packed.

By the time I reached T2, I figure I had burned 3,000-3,500 kcal and taken in about 1500, including breakfast. I did have a huge pizza dinner the night before, so I thought I was close to where I needed to be, but looking back, I was probably creating a pretty big nutrition deficit. I just never really feel like eating on the bike, especially during a race. I'll have to force myself to take in more Bloks or drink more Carbo-Pro next time and see if that helps.

Use a power meter to manage wattage.
Transition 2
  • 03m 5s

Running into the tent, I unstrapped my helmet and handed it to a volunteer. The guy next to me said, "now we just have to run a marathon." I think that's when I realized how much was still in front of us. I managed a sarcastic reply: "Is that all?" I pulled my Garmin out from where I had packed it in one of one of my running shoes and fiddled with it a bit (not a big fan of the 405 CX - at least not for triathlons!). It took a while to unlock the bezel and get it to start searching for signal. Wasn't too worried as I figured I could use the rest. Once it started searching, I put on socks and laced up my Asics. Grabbed my run nutrition baggy (more Bloks and salt) and my Garmin and was out of the tent. I told the volunteer my shoes were still on the bike and thanked him for taking care of my stuff. I stopped for some sunscreen and hit the mat to start the run. Race time was just about 7 hours.
What would you do differently?:

Forget the Fuel Belt - that thing drove me nuts (and caused me to later lose most of my nutrition). Don't mess around with the Garmin in T2. Deal with it on the run.
  • 4h 32m 27s
  • 26.2 miles
  • 10m 24s  min/mile

Starting the run, I felt pretty good. I had planned to go out at about 8-minute pace (about 1 minute slower than standalone marathon pace). My goal time was 10:25 and I would need to run a little faster than planned to run a 3:25.

I knew my mom had planned to set up shop along the concrete wall somewhere near the run special needs bags and sure enough, there she was with the camera, taking a video and cheering me on.

I made the first turn (just under a mile) and I was comfortably running at a 7:35 pace. I was trying to judge whether or not it felt like I COULD be running faster and it seemed like the pace might be slow enough, but I decided to try to back it off to 8 minutes just to be safe.

I had run through the first aid station, grabbing a cup of water and I skipped it altogether when I passed through, heading the opposite direction. I passed mom again and cruised through the transition area. So far, so good. It wouldn't last long.

I started to crack somewhere around mile 4 and stopped to use the porta-potty at the aid station. Sometime after that, down on the Centennial Trail, I noticed that I had lost my run nutrition. My Fuel Belt had risen up and popped the baggie out of one of my back pockets. At least I still had the one I brought with me from the bike, but there wasn't much there at all - maybe enough for an hour and a half. And I was already in a deficit.

I was slowing down by the time we hit the steepest incline on the course, just before the southernmost turnaround. My average pace was almost 8:30 for the 7.47 miles. I had been walking aid stations and was able to run between them until I hit the Motivational Mile mat at mile 10. I stoppped and walked to wait for my message, but it never came up. No motivation for me.

I continued walking through the aid stations, taking on sponges (those were great) and as much water and ice as I could until the end of the first loop of the run. From there I mixed in "run/walk" as I could and soon it mostly became "walk/run" to the southernmost turnaround. Coming back on the second loop, it was mostly just "walk" until the last mile. I ran in from the last aid station, down Sherman to the finishing chute and took in the crowd noise and high-fived some spectators. I heard Mike Reilly announce my name and then say, "A few more steps, Mike! You Ironman!!!"
What would you do differently?:

Try not to walk. Perhaps start out a bit slower and eat more. Walk through the first few aid stations to take on fluids and nutrition.

Later, when I was running, I was running faster than most, but I couldn't keep it up. I never cramped, but I had no energy. I would stop and walk after a few hundred yards and they would catch me. Then I would start running and pass them. It was like playing a 10k game of leapfrog. I guess I need to figure out how to shuffle. Walking just felt so good!

Find someone to run with. It really helped to keep pace with someone, but every time the opportunity came up, I was either faster or slower than the other person and one of us would have to stop. Shortly thereafter, so would the other.
Post race
Warm down:

Walk around the chute. The catchers kept a close eye on me, but I told them I was fine. I had done about 10 miles of walking and just ran the last mile. I was tired and glad to be done, but I felt fine. Actually pretty damn good! Big smile. Met up with my friends and took pictures. I met my mom and she took my bags to the car while I got my bike. We all met up at Capone's afterwards for some pizza and beer and then Conrad, Heather and I went down to watch the last finishers from 11:00 - midnight. It was quite a party. It was fun dancing on the bleachers and cheering everyone in!

What limited your ability to perform faster:

After reviewing the race, I think it was my poor execution of the nutrition plan. I should have emptied my feed box and bottles on the bike and eaten more on the run. I took in about 2,500 total calories on the day and probably burned 6,000 throughout the entire race. I was carrying one flask filled with concentrated Carbo-Pro 1200 on the run and I never used it. I still have never tried it and I was concerned about what it would do to my stomach. I should have tried it out in training to see how it works. But I brought it and carried it around the whole time. I should have tried taking a bit of the medicine along with water at one of the aid stations to see if it would bring me back to life. All I ever took from the aid stations was water, ice and sponges. The only calories I took in on the run were the remaining Bloks in my bike baggie and some Carbo-Pro / Powerade Zero mix from the other 3 flasks in my fuel belt. Losing my run nutrition baggie was a drag and I never really recovered from that.

I also think I may have gone out too hard on the bike. I know I didn't heed the warnings about spiking wattage on the hills. I stood on every one of em and even though my bike splits were almost exactly even, I must have taken too much out of my legs for the run. I didn't really know what to expect and I learned a lot.

Having the seatpost drop certainly didn't help. I think it kept me from keeping a high cadence so I was pushing too high of a gear the whole ride.

Event comments:

My goal was a 10:25; 1:15 + 5 + 5:30 + 5 + 3:30. I missed all of the splits except for T2 which was a high estimate. I think the biggest issue (other than setting a time goal in my first IM) was not taking in enough calories on the bike. I should have started eating a bit earlier and eaten more. I think it would have kept my energy level up for the duration of the run. I have heard it said that the 4th discipline in long-distance racing is nutrition and I think I may have found a new weakest leg in the sport.

This race is awesome. From the location, to the volunteers, to the organization, to the sheer spectacle of the M-dot experience, it is definitely a top-notch triathlon. It was a blast!

Despite the mechanical issue on the bike and struggles on the run, I thoroughly enjoyed the race. It was my first, but definitely not last, Ironman. Even when I was walking, I was smiling and thanking volunteers. I learned a lot about Iron-distance racing and I'm really looking forward to the next one. I just have to figure out which one it going to be.

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Last updated: 2009-08-19 12:00 AM
01:16:24 | 4224 yards | 01m 49s / 100yards
Age Group: 159/474
Overall: 827/2200
Performance: Average
35 minutes out of the water after the first loop.
Suit: Xterra Vendetta Full
Course: Two loops. Counter-clockwise rectangle. Long leg out, short leg left, long leg back.
Start type: Wade Plus: Shot
Water temp: 63F / 17C Current: Low
200M Perf. Good Remainder: Good
Breathing: Good Drafting: Below average
Waves: Navigation: Good
Rounding: Average
Time: 06:14
Performance: Below average
Cap removal: Good Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Run with bike: Yes
Jump on bike: No
Getting up to speed:
05:38:12 | 112 miles | 19.87 mile/hr
Age Group: 81/474
Overall: 348/2200
Performance: Good
34 mi split: 1:42:16 (19.95 mph) 90 mi (56 mi split): 2:49:18 (19.85) 112 mi (22 mi split): 1:06:38 (19.87)
Wind: Some
Course: Two loops. Short out & back, then longer tour up and around Hayden Lake. Rolling hills with some steep climbs / descents.
Road: Smooth Dry Cadence: 80
Turns: Average Cornering: Average
Gear changes: Below average Hills: Average
Race pace: Comfortable Drinks: Just right
Time: 03:05
Overall: Average
Riding w/ feet on shoes Good
Jumping off bike Good
Running with bike
Racking bike
Shoe and helmet removal
04:32:27 | 26.2 miles | 10m 24s  min/mile
Age Group: 140/474
Overall: 652/2200
Performance: Bad
.9 mi split: 6:50 (7:35 min pace) 7.47 mi (6:57 mi split): 56:25 (8:35) 14 mi (6.53 mi split): 1:04:20 (9:51) 21.75 mi (7.75 mi split): 1:21:32 (10:31) 26.2 mi (4.45 mi): 1:03:20 (14:13)
Course: Two loops, relatively flat, with some gradual inclines and short rollers. One steep incline at the end of the long southern loop.
Keeping cool Below average Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Average
Mental exertion [1-5] 3
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