Ironman Coeur d'Alene - TriathlonFull Ironman

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Coeur d'Alene, Idaho
United States
95F / 35C
Total Time = 16h 32m 55s
Overall Rank = 1864/2227
Age Group = M35-39
Age Group Rank = 335/394
Pre-race routine:

Stared at the ceiling for hours before deciding to get out of bed at 3:30 a.m. Ate a Clif Bar, a banana, a bowl of oatmeal, and drank as much water and gatorade as I could stomach. Gathered gear and jockstrap (who was still half-asleep) and headed to the race site.
Event warmup:

Warmed up by struggling to shrinkwrap my doughboy body in neoprene. Sufficiently sweaty and winded, I headed to the beach with Tobin (T in Liberty Lake) and James (JamesReeves). When we were standing on the downward sloping beach with 2400 of our closest friends, James said "You might want to stand above me." I looked down as the puddle began to form around his feet. Lauging, I said "Uh, James...aren't you supposed to wait until you get in the water to do that?" He told Tobin and I that he couldn't wait...he then covered his pee puddle with sand, just like a cat in a litter box. We both assured him that this moment would make it in the race, there you have it.
  • 1h 30m 19s
  • 4224 yards
  • 02m 08s / 100 yards

Apparently I missed the memo about how to appropriately participate in the "ultimate fighting championship death match" while swimming. There were some super aggressive folks out there. I had no idea you were supposed to grab peoples feet and pull them under; push folks under by the back of their head, elbow your neighbor in the side while passing, etc. All in all, however, it was a GREAT swim for me. This is the very first swim I've ever done without ever stopping to breaststroke and rest. I swam it all the way through...even when my goggles got kicked off, I just pulled them back on quickly and kept swimming.

I started to the outside (all the way to the right) and my plan was to slowly angle in so that I could make the first turn nice and wide. Well, I was a little faster than I expected, and at a little more angle than I expected, so I ended up making the turn right at the buoy in the middle of the pack. In fact, I could have touched the buoy I was so close. This was a huge bottleneck, and basically a floating bar fight. I didn't win, but I didn't lose either. I just kept swimming while folks beat the crap out of me from all sides!

Finished the first loop and gave the photographer a nice "incredible hulk" pose before getting back in the water. I yelled at him "Who said fat guys can't swim?" It was fun.

Second loop was almost flawless. Swam straight up the buoy line on the inside for the entire loop. As I rounded the second turn, I got behind a lady who was having trouble...she kept stopping to tread water. I would pass her, then she would swim real fast in front of me, hold her stroke for 15 seconds, and stop again so I could run into her. I fought off the urge to hold her under water and drown her, and I finally got past her for good. To break up the monotony of the second loop, I decided to hum the "Mission Impossible" tune under water as I exhaled. This got old pretty quick so I switched to Darth Vader's was more fun. Not sure how I picked those songs in the middle of a 2.4 mile swim, except that we were talking about them earlier since they were on people's ringtones on their cell phones.

As I was about 200 yards from the finish, I looked down and to my surprise, there was a frogman looking back up at me! I knew divers would be there, but I didn't figure I'd pass right over one. The water was crystal clear, so I looked right at him and he waved at me. I gave him a quick peace sign and kept on trucking. Exited the water, flopped on my back and let the wetsuit stripper do his job (swoosh...2 seconds) and off I went into T1, refreshed and ready for the bike.
What would you do differently?:

Nothing, other than possibly take a course in water-bound hand-to-hand combat...and maybe drown the dumb girl after all.
Transition 1
  • 13m 18s

Well, what can I say. Nice, leisurely stroll into T1, where I relaxed as I changed into my bike clothes. Volunteers were awesome. I took my time and relaxed, in case you can't tell. Only thing missing from this little vacation in T1 was a margarita and a nap. Maybe next time. In any event, it got me nice and rested and in a good frame of mind for the bike ride ahead.
What would you do differently?:

Speed up beyond the pace of a tree sloth. Drink the margarita but skip the nap.
  • 8h 08m 21s
  • 112 miles
  • 13.76 mile/hr

Can you say MOUNT EVEREST?? Seriously, all the good cyclists will say the hills weren't bad...they are lying...I promise. For this chubby flatlander, these hills, combined with the heat and wind, kicked my double-cheeseburger butt.

My race plan said I was to stay in zone 2 (118-132) for most of the ride, with zone 3 (133-137) on the hills. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! Within the first 10 minutes of the bike, my HR immediately shot into the high 140s, went into the high 160s on the hills, and never came back down into zone 2.

The first loop wasn't too bad, until I hit the first big climb going out of town. I ended up in granny gear, huffing and puffing while staying in the saddle. If I didn't have a triple on my bike, I probably would not have finished this race. At the top of the hill, after I was certain my heart had not yet exploded, I was able to enjoy some fast downhills. Then came Riverview, the steeper climb. HR was in the 160s, speed was at blazing fast 4.5 mph. I thought I might actually roll down the hill backwards. I made it to the top and threw up a little off the side of my bike. Again, more fast downhills.

After the hills, we had some relatively easy terrain, however there was a pretty strong headwind for a good portion of it. The wind didn't bother me too bad...must be a result of my training in windy conditions here at home. The loop around the greyhound track was fun.

We rode back into town and started the second loop. I knew that between mile 75 and 85 were going to be those hills again...I was sick just thinking about it. As I approached special needs, I realized there was no port-a-potty nearby, and I had to go BAD, so I asked one of the volunteers how close the next one was. He told me it was a little ways up the road, but that he had just peed under a bridge about 25 yards away...sounds good to me, so I turned around, rode to the bridge, peed (dark yellow/gold...uh-oh), and came back to get my bag, which had been laying on the concrete cooking for the last several hours. In my special needs bag, I pulled out my "before" picture that I had stashed, showed it to the volunteer (he was impressed by my girth) and then took my replacement bottle of Perpetuem. Note to self...90 degree Perpetuem tastes like what I would imagine elephant urine to taste like...just horrible! Got back on my bike and took off.

The rest of the second loop was absolute misery. The Perpetuem was completely nasty, and my stomach was killing me. Then I knew I had to drink a lot more water because I was getting dehydrated (remember the gold pee?). I doubled my water intake, and it made my stomach hurt even more. Lots of belching, alternating with vomiting. It was hot, windy, and just miserable for me. At mile 70, my race was defined for me.

As I was saying....mile 70 approached and all of a sudden my quads...both of them...decided to completely ball up in cramps. This was literally debilitating. I had to get off my bike and rub my quads as hard as I could just so I could try to keep pedaling. Got back on the bike and within minutes, BAM....both quads cramped up again. I continued this throughout the rest of the race, riding most of the time in very easy gears...a lot in granny gear.

Both hills on the second loop were complete misery. I stayed in the saddle because any extra load on my quads by trying to stand was out of the question. Halfway up the second climb (Riverview) I thought my race was over...there were several people walking their bikes, and I was determined not to. I finally had to walk a short legs just couldn't pedal up the hill any more. It was humiliating.

At the top of the Riverview hill, I rested for a while, massaged my legs some more, and then got back on the bike. Rode the rest of the second loop slowly and basically defeated, and headed into town. My bike split was approximately an hour and a half longer than I had hoped.

As I entered T2, a volunteer asked if he could take my bike. I replied "Sir, you can HAVE my bike...the piece of crap doesn't know how to climb hills." He got a good laugh out of this. Obviously, the bike wasn't the problem, but at that moment, I envisioned it at the bottom of Lake Coeur d'Alene, and it made me happy.
What would you do differently?:

Ummmmm.....let me see. 1) Move to somewhere that I can train on hills. 2) Figure out how to make 90 degree Perpetuem palatable. 3) Move to somewhere that I can train on hills. 4) Install a motor on my bike. 5) Move to somewhere that I can train on hills....notice a pattern here??

I definitely don't want to see my bike, much less ride it, for a couple weeks. This was a horrible bike ride, but I made it 30 minutes under the cutoff, so that's what counts.
Transition 2
  • 14m 8s

Ahhhhh.....vacation number 2. I again took my time. Lots and lots and lots of time. I was so pissed about my bike split, and my legs felt like they had been run over by a steamroller. However, I had none of the evil "I want to quit" feelings that I had been warned are prevalent in T2. I was just mad and needed to take my time to calm down and get prepared for my run.

I changed clothes, gathered up my bike gear to put in my bag (no volunteer helped me in T2) and just took it easy for a minute. Again, the margarita and nap were missing and much needed.
What would you do differently?:

Throw my bike off a cliff on the way in, and then move about 100 times faster getting out to the run course. Other than that, not much.
  • 6h 26m 48s
  • 26.2 miles
  • 14m 46s  min/mile

Well, where do we go with this one? Obviously, after my horrendous cramping issues on the bike, I knew from the start that I was in for a long night on the marathon course. However, the evil thoughts came much quicker than I imagined they would. At mile 2, I saw my jockstrap and stopped to talk to him. I told him "Chase, I'm dying out here." He politely told me to get my a$$ in gear and keep moving, that quitting was not an option. I was so dejected because my legs just would not run...I wanted to be done, but I took his advice and kept going forward. He told me he had a little surprise for me just ahead, and then he took off running. About 200 yards later, Trixie and Chippy were standing on the side of the road, screaming, and holding a sign for me. They both spontaneously lifted their tops (yes, they had sports bras on underneath) and it was absolutely hilarious. I got a good laugh and this lifted my spirits tremendously...thanks ladies.

Within a couple more miles, I was actually able to start running a bit, so I alternated between running and walking. I had figured out that I needed to pick up my pace and try to average under 14s, so I made sure my average pace on my Garmin was always in the 13s. This caused me to run more than I wanted to, and my legs were absolutely killing me. I knew I needed to keep this up at least until the halfway point, at which time I would assess the situation again and adjust my pace.

As I approached mile 12 or 13, I saw Madcow, and he told me he was so thrilled to see me and that he knew I would make it now. I wasn't so sure, but it was great to finally see a familiar made me feel much better. I got to the aid station with the Hawaii theme and danced with the ladies for a few was fun. Then I approached a guy at the station who was in a dress and heels and told him he was pretty and if I wasn't married, and in the middle of a miserable day, I would have asked him out. We all got a good laugh.

When I got to special needs, the volunteer handed me my bag. Another "before" picture, which really motivated me to keep going (he was also impressed with my girth). In the bag, I also had a printout of an email that my 10-year-old daughter had sent me just three days before the race. I asked the volunteer to read it to me..."Dear daddy. I am so proud of your accomplishments and I am 100% sure you will cross the finish line. I love you." I stood in special needs and cried. My kid is so freaking cool.

As I managed to regain my composure and head out for the second half of the marathon, I recalculated my pace and figured out that I could be in the 16s, and even some 17s, and still finish. I obviously did not want to go that slow, but the cramps and stress of the day had just knocked me down really hard. I slowed down and did much more walking than on the first lap.

My nutrition had been predetermined and was working pretty well until mile 16 or so. I could no longer stomach gels, and I started really enjoying the coke and chicken broth. Funny thing is, at different points in the race, my stomach would accept or reject different things. One station I would drink two cups of broth and be fine...then at the next one I would try to drink broth and throw it up...wierd. At this point, I was in survival mode, so I just took in whatever my body would accept.

I can't remember what mile it was exactly, but at some point in the last seven or eight miles, Stan (Flyboy) spotted me (he was passing the other way, well ahead of me). He yelled my name out and came over and gave me a huge, tight, manly bear hug (he almost got a combination of broth, gel, coke and water vomited down his back, but I held it in). He told me "you've got it now're gonna finish." As I walked away, I started to cry again...not sure why, but the emotion just takes over I guess. I am not usually a cryer, but today was different for sure.

It was getting pretty dark, and the whole situation was almost surreal. There were hundreds of us, silently walking, jogging, plodding, whatever, into the dark Idaho night, with just a couple hours left to finish. I knew that those around me were hurting like I was. We tried to encourage each other, and I struck up a few conversations to pass the time. It was all about moving forward and keeping the legs from seizing up.

I ran into Madcow again and we exchanged a few words...he said he'd see me at the finish (he was about half an hour ahead of me). A little while later, I came upon a guy completely passed out asleep in someone's front yard. He had a friend and a volunteer tending to him, so I kept moving. I kept telling myself to just keep moving forward. Around mile 23, a pickup truck pulled up and the guy handed me a glowstick out the window. I looked at him and said "COOL!! I sign up for an Ironman and get a free toy too?" He laughed and drove on. Around the next corner, I was bored with the my new toy and threw it over a cone.

After what seemed like an eternity, I got to the mile 25 aid station. I still don't know what came over me, but for some stupid reason, I asked the lady what she had, and after she listed off her inventory, I actually requested chocolate chip cookies and chicken broth. This combination must have sounded good to me, but I was obviously delirious. It was absolutely disgusting. I couldn't even swallow the first bite of cookie as I looked at the cup of broth I had to wash it down with...I spit it out and threw out the broth. The really funny thing is, I talked to Madcow later and he had picked the exact same combination at mile 25...too cool.

As I approached the middle of the 25th mile, I could hear the crowd at the finish line, I could hear the music, and I could hear Mike Reilly. Emotion took over again, and tears just started rolling down my face. I couldn't believe I was finally here. So many hours, so many obstacles, so many doubts and worries and so much pain...all behind me now. Somehow, some way, my legs just magically started working again. I still have no idea why or how this happened, but I was able to run...really, freely, run with a nice stride and pace. It was like a miracle. I ran down into the crowds in town (there were thousands lining the streets), into the finish chute, and as I was high fiving everyone in sight, I heard the words I have waited almost a year to hear..."From Brownsville, Texas...Brandt Johnson...YOU are an Ironman."

I jumped up and down like a little kid and was grabbed by two catchers. My medal was placed around my neck, and I was taken off the Ironman, forever. No one can ever take this away from me.
What would you do differently?:

In hindsight, absolutely nothing. This was my first Ironman, and it was a tough, gut-wrenching day. But it allowed me to reach really, really deep inside and find something I never knew was there. In my mind, that makes it a perfect day, regardless of my finish time.
Post race
Warm down:

Got a massage, and achieved one of my listed goals...NO MEDICAL TENT!! Gathered my gear, went back to the hotel, took an ice bath, ate three cheeseburgers, and passed out cold.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

I'm still chubby, I'm a beginner, and the conditions whipped my butt. But I finished.

Event comments:

Seventeen months ago, I was a 310 pound, I am an Ironman. I have a beautiful supportive wife, two incredible daughters, and through BT I have met some of the best friends anyone could ever ask for. Many of them raced with me today, and all of them have a special place in my heart.
Thanks to all of you for being my friends, my supporters, and my fellow triathletes!

I don't want to accidentally leave anyone out, so I'm not going to list everyone, but I have to mention a few who have been so special to me.

Aaron (JeepFleeb) and Haley (Comet), even hundreds of miles away, you have shown your love, support and friendship so many times and in so many ways, I had to stop counting..."thanks" doesn't begin to explain my gratitude, but you both know how I feel. (Aaron, I haven't forgotten your gesture at Stonebridge, and I am still in awe of you).

Celeste (CitySky), you have kept me grounded and your friendly advice and constant spritual uplifting are awesome. You are one ultra-classy lady.

Joe (Freeswimmingfish) and Bill (RGRBill) guys are always so encouraging, and since our first tri together in Sugarland, you have always had faith in me. You are truly my brothers.

Tobin (T in Liberty Lake) gets a special thanks for the awesome hospitality and the IMCDA tips the past several months, even if he did lie about the hills being no big deal. ;)

Brett (Hopper), my coach, you got me ready to face this day, and you are an awesome individual and friend...I look forward to great things to come thanks to your leadership and guidance.

Finally, Tom (Madcow), you know you are my hero and a friend forever. Your sense of balance, your love for your family, your ability to wear a smile even in the toughest of times (I saw you standing there holding your wheel on the bike course, encouraging others even in the face of adversity) and your undying spirit are second to none. It is my honor and privilege to be your friend.

I can't wait for IMAZ.

Last updated: 2006-01-28 12:00 AM
01:30:19 | 4224 yards | 02m 08s / 100yards
Age Group: 0/394
Overall: 1864/2227
Performance: Good
Suit: DeSoto Black Pearl Full Suit
Course: Two Loop rectangle. Counter-clockwise.
Start type: Run Plus:
Water temp: 62F / 17C Current: Low
200M Perf. Good Remainder: Good
Breathing: Good Drafting: Good
Waves: Navigation: Good
Rounding: Good
Time: 13:18
Performance: Average
Cap removal: Good Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Run with bike:
Jump on bike:
Getting up to speed:
08:08:21 | 112 miles | 13.76 mile/hr
Age Group: 0/394
Overall: 0/2227
Performance: Bad
Wind: Some
Course: Two loops...very windy, very hot, very hilly (for this Texas flatlander, anyway)
Road: Smooth  Cadence:
Turns: Good Cornering: Good
Gear changes: Average Hills: Bad
Race pace: Drinks: Not enough
Time: 14:08
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike
Racking bike
Shoe and helmet removal
06:26:48 | 26.2 miles | 14m 46s  min/mile
Age Group: 0/394
Overall: 0/2227
Keeping cool Good Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Mental exertion [1-5] 4
Physical exertion [1-5] 3
Good race? Yes
Course challenge
Events on-time?
Lots of volunteers?
Plenty of drinks?
Post race activities:
Race evaluation [1-5]