Ironman Coeur d'Alene - TriathlonFull Ironman

View Member's Race Log View other race reports
Coeur d'Alene, Idaho
United States
Ironman North America
70F / 21C
Total Time = 12h 17m 56s
Overall Rank = 763/2351
Age Group = 40-44
Age Group Rank = 159/376
Pre-race routine:

In the days leading to the race I tried to keep my system as clean as possible from a nutritional standpoint. I drastically reduced the fiber intake, and upped the carbs and protein intake. I tried to rest and stay off my legs as much as possible, with the exception of a 20 min practice swim on Friday and a “mini tri” consisting of a 15 min swim, 30 min bike, and 15 min run (each of those with 5 short 20 s pickups) on Saturday. After I was done with the mini tri I checked in the bike and the transition bags and headed back to the hotel were I had a very early and light dinner (roasted chicken and potatoes, bread, glass of red wine). I hit the bed around 8:30pm and fell immediately asleep like a rock. At 11:30pm my wife woke me up in panic asking me “What’s that noise?”. How could I know? I was sleeping so tight... But there was a very loud and annoying noise, like someone was drilling a hole in a concrete wall. I got out in the hallway and I realized that the fire alarm (!?) had gone off. Picked up some stuff from the room and ran to the parking lot with the girls and wife. After 30 minutes (!!??) the firefighters showed up and started inspecting the building. Since outside was very cold, probably in the mid 40s, we decided to get in the car and try to sleep in there. After another 30 minutes (!!!???) the firefighters came out of the building and said that everything was fine and we were allowed to go back to our rooms. It turns out that a jackass was smoking in his room and set off the fire alarm in the process. Not the best way to spend the night before my first Ironman race... Anyhow, by 12:40am we were back in our beds and, surprisingly, I resumed my sleep like nothing had happened.
At 3:30am on race day the alarm went off and I did some light stretching while downing my first bottle of Ensure Plus. At 4am we went downstairs to the breakfast room where I made myself a couple of waffles with syrup, and downed the second bottle of Ensure Plus. To top it off, I had a large banana and a massive cup of coffee. That was probably my largest breakfast ever, probably totaling 800+ cal. My wife was shocked by how much I ate. Well, this is Ironman, so everything is disproportionate in size :)
After rounding up my gear, around 5:30am we left the hotel and went to the City Park to dropoff the special need bags, put nutrition on the bike, check out the tire pressure, and take care of the final preparations. Watched the Pros starting the race and then I headed to the start line myself.
  • 1h 26m 55s
  • 3862 meters
  • 02m 15s / 100 meters

On race morning we were graced with a "balmy" 54F water temperature. The temp had been increasing nicely over the last couple of weeks and briefly touched 60F a couple of days before the race, but unfortunately it dropped like a stone just before race day. I knew this was not good news for me because I didn't have many chances to train in cold waters during the race buildup. My only two OWSs this year were the Wildflower swim in lake San Antonio (62F) and a swim at Cowell Beach in Santa Cruz (55F) the weekend before the race. But given that the ocean in SC was as cold as Lake CDA and I was fine during my 20 min swim, I thought I was probably going to be fine in CDA too.

In reality things turned out to be much different from my hopes. Even if I took some time to warm up and get acclimated before the start, when the gun went off I started hyperventilating after a few strokes because of the shock. I tried to normalize my breathing by swimming breast stroke, but it was hard because there was people swimming all over me. Being a pretty mediocre swimmer, I seeded myself to the far right in the middle of the pack to avoid the crowds as much as possible. Unfortunately, with 2500 participants starting the race, there was no way to avoid the crowds. After a couple of minutes I regained control of my breathing and resumed swimming free style. Everything was fine till the first turn, where I got caught up in a big traffic jam and drank a couple of mouthfuls of water. I think I had a panick attack and freaked out so badly that I thought about quitting, since the Honey Badger don't care, I HTFU and kept swimming breast stroke for some time. As soon as my breathing normalized again I resumed my freestlye stroke. But that didn't last long as the same scene repeated at the second turn buoy. I managed to go through this ordeal once again, and the swim was pretty uneventful till the turnaround on the beach. As soon as I got out of the water, after a way below average 40 min to cover 1800 m, I felt there was something wrong with me because I was unable to stand and walk properly because I was shivering. The idea of quitting caressed my mind again, but the HB promptly kicked it out. So I reentered the water and kept swimming without major incidents because the mass of people had thinned out by then. On the final stretch I really felt badly as I was rattling my teeth and my legs were cramping badly, but at this point I couldn't really quit. Once I reached the beach again, after 46 minutes, I could barely stand.
What would you do differently?:

Definitely have more OWS session in cold water. I was completely unprepared for the cold swim. Also, since I was not very comfortable with so many people around at the start, next time I'll make sure to start further back.
Transition 1
  • 27m 13s

After passing the swim finish arch, two volunteers grabbed me, told me to drop on the ground and took my wetsuit off. Since I could not stand up on my own because of the violent shivering that was shaking my entire body they picked me up and took me to the changing tent, where they literally suited me up for the bike leg because my hands were not functioning at all. A volunteer with the medical staff told me that I probably had to quit because I was suffering of severe hypothermia, but could make that decision after spending some time in the warming tent and see if that would help. So the kind volunteers that picked me up at the beach took me to the warming tent and dropped me on a chair in front of a small but powerful gas heating unit. After 10 minutes in there, my body stopped shivering and I felt OK, so I decided to give it a shot to the bike. But as soon as I got out of the tent the cool morning air (it was probably in the high 50s / low 60s by 8:30am) made me shiver once again. So back in the warming tent for another good 10 minutes. At that point I felt really hot and decided that it was time to start my bike ride no matter what. After all, HB don't care :)
What would you do differently?:

Avoid hypothermia on the swim :)
  • 6h 25m 35s
  • 112 miles
  • 17.43 mile/hr

Left T1 after 27 minutes and started the bike very conservatively as I was concerned about the cramping in my legs that plagued the last stretch of the swim. I kept my HR in Z1 during the out and back stretch on the lake side to test out the waters, so to speak :) All the systems were working fine, so I decided to increase the intensity to Z2 on the way out to Hiden. I was probably one of the last to leave T1 as there were just a bunch of bikes scattered here and there on the racks, so I knew my ride would have been pretty lonely. But once I got to the hilly section, I started to pass some people. That was a bit concerning to me because my plan was not to pass anyone on the bike, especially on the hills, to save my legs for the run. But my HR was under control, just a few short Z3 and Z4 spikes on the steepest climbs (never went anaerobic). So I just kept going, highly motivated by the "Steep hill? HB don't care" sign I spotted on the last climb. After the turnaround on Ohio Match Rd, I started pushing a bit harder on the slight downhill sections on the leg back to town, but I paid attention not to exceed Z2. This leg was pretty boring and uneventful, but things started to look interesting again when I started my second loop.

First of all I saw Craig Alexander at the beginning of his first loop on the run course. I was really impressed by his elegance and stride fluidity. Secondly, on the out and back along the lake I noticed I was passing more and more people. They must have been the first timers (like me) that went out on the course too hard (unlike me) because of all the excitement and adrenaline. By the time I reached the hilly section for the second time, the road had became pretty crowded and the number of people I was passing increased significantly. As in the first loop, there were a lot of folks still hammering the hills pretty hard, many standing on the pedals, and cooking their legs in the process. I just kept riding in Z2, occasionally spiking on the climbs, and pushing the downhills as per my plan. Despite my steady effort on the hills, I had some minor issues with my nutrition, probably caused by the initial hypothermia. I noticed that the berry/cherry Clif Blocks I had been living off during the last few months on my long rides were becoming more and more indigestible because of their sweetness. Fortunately I brought along a bunch of Margarita flavored blocks because of their 3x sodium content compared to the other blocks. Since those proved to be definitely more palatable to me than the fruit ones, I decided to switch to the Margarita flavored blocks even though I had never tried them in training. Fortunately this worked quite well. As in the first loop, the ride back to town was boring and uneventful. After the turnaround on Northwest Boulevard started stretching out a bit and I took my feet off my shoes in preparation for a flying dismount, which I executed flawlessly at the dismount line.
What would you do differently?:

Probably nothing. The bike leg was executed very well.
Transition 2
  • 04m 21s

Fortunately T2 was much faster than T1. Wasted a bit of time changing my socks because the ones I used on the bike were soaked with water (and other fluids :) I also spent a minute getting slathered in sun screen by two kind volunteers, and I took advantage of this forced stop to put on my fuel belt with two flasks of diluted Hammer gel, my super-reliable fuel during my long runs (more on this later).
  • 3h 53m 52s
  • 26.2 miles
  • 08m 56s  min/mile

As soon as I got out of transition I noticed that my wife and my two little girls were right there cheering me up. I stopped and exchanged high fives with the girls which were superexcited to see me after almost 8 hours. When I resumed running, pretty much all the kids along the lakeside trail were extending their hands and I exchanged high fives with all of them. It felt just great! Unfortunately this had the side effect of making me run faster than anticipated, as my pace was around 7:30 and my HR was dangerously close to Z3. I had to spend quite some time and effor to bring my HR and pace back within the planned zones because in the first section of the run, the one that goes through the CDA neighborhoods, there was so much cheering going on. I eventually managed to settle around 8:30/low Z2 by the time I reached Lakeside Blvd. At that point all the systems were working fine, except, once again, GI. When I first took the first sip of Hammer gel I felt very nauseaous. I knew I was in trouble and I had to switch to plan B, i.e., drinking Powerbar Perform from the aid stations. I tested it out during long runs in the afternoon heat and I knew I could take it in without much trouble. I drank only water for a couple of aid stations to let the nausea subside, and then switched to Perform around mile 5. When I begun the climb on the the nasty hill before the turnaround I saw Julie Dibens coming down. She seemed to be struggling a bit, but for her the worst was almost over, while for me it was just beginning. After climbing and descending the hill without any particular problem, I hit the aid station at the turnaround and loaded up on Perform. Went up and down the hill again, but at the bottom I felt my quads tightening up and my pace becoming harder and harder to maintain. At I was most likely bonking because of the extended time I didn’t take in any calories after the Hammer gel fiasco. The only option was to slow down the pace to a more manageable 9:30 while waiting for the Perform to kick in. While I struggling a bit, I was still enjoying my run because of the large number of people I was passing. At least half of the people on the run course were walking, another good part were jogging while only a small number were actually running. The hills on CDA bike course are notorious leg busters, and this time was no exception. Powerbar Perform kicked in around mile 9 and I was able to resume my 8:30ish pace.
I was hoping to see my wife at the turnaround to hand her over the useless fuel belt, but unfortunately she was not there (the girls wanted to go play at the playground in the City Park around that time). So with much regret I decided to dump 16 oz of diluted Hammer gel in order to shed some ballast. Everything was looking good till mile 16, where I hit another GI rough patch: Perform was no longer working and I felt nauseous once again. Thankfully the week before the race I was reading Macca’s book “I’m here to win”, and one of the pieces of advice he was giving is that on the run sooner or later one reaches a point where he or she can no longer process complex carbs from typical fuels because of the effort intensity. To avoid GI issues at that point the only solution is to switch to simple carbs like sugars. And since Coke has loads of sugars in it, it becomes the best fuel from that point on. So I followed Macca’s advice and switched to Coke. In a matter of a few minutes I felt the nausea going away and the kick from the sugar. Things were looking good again I didn’t have any problem crossing the infamous “line” at mile 18. The line is where everything starts falling apart for most people, but thanks to the Coke I was still kicking pretty good. The folks from Endurance Nation recommend to count the number of people one passes after the line in order to keep the motivation high and get it done with the race. So even if I was not feeling too bad, I started counting the people I was passing. And then I hit *my* personal line at mile 22...
I slowed down noticeably as my pace climbed to 9:30ish, but things were not too grim as I had already started the motivational people count at mile 18. Besides, mile 22 was so close to the end that all I had to do was to just HTFU and get it done. Also, the last few miles were the ones with the most spectators along the course, which way past 7pm were still infusing a lot of energy into the fading racers. Just after mile 25 there was a bifurcation: finishers on the left, 2nd loopers on the right. At that point I knew I was going to make it no matter what and I picked up my pace again. After a few moment I was on Sherman Dr, and I was shocked by how many people were there and how loudly they were shouting encouragement words to me. I was giving hang loose sings left and right and every time I gave a sing a big howl came out of the crowds ( I suspect that Sherman Dr is a close rival to Ali’i Dr, as far as spectators cheering and support is concerned). My pace at that point really picked up, it was probably below 7:00, helped by the gentle downgrade on Sherman. Once I reached the finish chute I slowed down considerably and started doing airplanes, giving high fives to all the kids left and right while the spectators were going nuts! Unfortunately I missed my little girls because of all the confusion and commotion going on. That was my biggest regret for the day. Other than that, I think my run was just perfect.
What would you do differently?:

Experiment more with nutrition options in training. Clearly Hammer Gel was completely inadequate on race day.
Post race
Warm down:

After I passed (actually jumped) the finish line, another kind volunteer grabbed me gave me a bottle of (hot) water and my finisher’s medal, t-shirt and cap. She kept asking if I was fine for at least a couple of minutes and wouldn’t let go of my arm until she was completely sure I was good to go. Since there was no line at the massage tent I “ran” there to get a massage from one of the North Idaho College PT students. This was the first time ever I got a post race massage and it was simply awesome. I’ll make sure to get more in future races :)

I eventually reunited with my family and my two little girls were jumping all over me because they were so happy to see me again after 12+ hrs. That was the finest moment in one of the longest days in my life :)

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Initial hypothermia out of the water. Need to practice more in the Ocean!

Event comments:

If it were not for the volunteers, my day would have been much harder. Those guys really made a difference, at least for me. I thanked as many of them as possible on and off the course because without them I'd be probably still stuck in my wetsuite :)

Last updated: 2010-07-13 12:00 AM
01:26:55 | 3862 meters | 02m 15s / 100meters
Age Group: 0/376
Overall: 0/2351
Performance: Below average
Suit: Ironman
Course: Two loops around a rectangular perimeter delimited by buoys in front of the CDA City Beach, with a short run on the beach between the loops.
Start type: Run Plus: Shot
Water temp: 54F / 12C Current:
200M Perf. Below average Remainder: Below average
Breathing: Below average Drafting: Average
Waves: Navigation: Good
Rounding: Below average
Time: 27:13
Performance: Bad
Cap removal: Average Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? No Run with bike: Yes
Jump on bike: No
Getting up to speed:
06:25:35 | 112 miles | 17.43 mile/hr
Age Group: 0/376
Overall: 0/2351
Performance: Good
Wind: Some
Course: Two loops, out and back on Lake Coeur D'Alene Dr, followed by an out and back towards Hyden. The sections along the lakes were spectacular, with lots of more or less challenging hills in Hyden. The section after the turnaround and back to town was a bit boring.
Road: Smooth Dry Cadence: 80+
Turns: Good Cornering: Good
Gear changes: Good Hills: Good
Race pace: Comfortable Drinks: Just right
Time: 04:21
Overall: Good
Riding w/ feet on shoes Good
Jumping off bike Good
Running with bike Good
Racking bike
Shoe and helmet removal
03:53:52 | 26.2 miles | 08m 56s  min/mile
Age Group: 0/376
Overall: 0/2351
Performance: Good
Course: Two loops, out and back on Lake Coeur D'Alene Dr, passing through some nice CDA neighborhoods, with a challenging hill right before the turnaround.
Keeping cool Good Drinking Not enough
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: Below average
Race evaluation [1-5] 5