I walked into the water and started to the far right of the buoy line. Because of the warm up ( even though it was about 15 minutes prior..the cannon went off at 6:40 and I went in the water around 6:51) I was acclimated to the water and didn't get any of the yikes it's cold and hard to get my breath feeling. I quickly started to leapfrog form swimmer to swimmer drafting and then passing. The further out we got the water start getting pretty choppy. As I felt my body start to rise with a wave I would try to grab a breath at the top and sight if I needed focusing on the turn buoy in the distance. At times the waves were big enough that if you looked up when you were between the waves it was hard to see the buoys. The turns were congested like they always are with lots of people breast stroking around them, which I have now decided is the easiest way to get kicked, swimming around or behind someone breaststroking. On the first lap I did get a punch to the face that knocked my goggles off enough to fill them with water. I swam a little with the water in them and then moved out to the side by the kayakers and emptied the water and and started moving again. I had never done a race where you get out and start a second lap and actually liked it, mentally it seemed easier to break the swim up into two segments. The second lap was more of the same of the first lap but the waves and winds seemed to pick up even more. The nice part about the waves was they really did push you back toward the shore after the turn.
Came out of the water and did a short beach run to the wetsuit strippers. They quickly pulled the suit off and I fast walked to grab my T1 bag that a Volunteer was holding for me and into the changing tent. Straight to the back and found a chair and someone helped me get changed and out the door. I took my time and didn't feel rushed. Got to the bike and grabbed the tracking device and went to snap it around my waist and the strap broke. I spent about 2 minutes before realizing that I should stop messing with it and just tie it around my waist. Felt a little lose but it worked and off I went.
Headed out of T1 and there was the family..a couple of woohoos and a thumbs up and I was on my way. The first mile of this race is up a main street that is blocked off completely and is lined on both sides with spectators...lots of fun and a great way to start. Head out of town for about 7 miles and turn around and come back. I didn't really notice the wind to much on this segment and there are a few rolling hills but it was beautiful to ride along the lake.Saw the family again as I came back through town and high fived them as I went by. There is a few No Passing zones on this course and the first one is on the ramp as you head out of town and then across the bridge on Hwy 95. They are clearly marked and not a big deal unless you get behind someone going really slow which can be frustrating especially on downhill segments. On one hill on the return I was behind someone who would not go faster than 25 and really would have liked to pass them but obeyed the rule. The climbs on the outbound looked intimidating to me, not super steep but long. I followed my plan of spinning up them easy, it was almost peaceful with all of the pretty scenery. Once at the top of the climbs the wind hit you full in the face. There were winds gusting to 29 mph so at times you really had to hang onto your bike. I went by a guy on a slight downhill that was riding with one arm on his arerobar and the other arm with the elbow resting on the forearm pad at a 90 degree angle and his chin resting in his hand. I laughed and he just shook his head and said "Do you realize we are going downhill, pedaling and only going 15mph?" It was a really long slow slog out to the turn around. I thought the aid stations were perfectly placed. On the first lap I had to stop several times to pee and in total had 10 minutes of not moving over the course because of having to wait in lines at the Porta Jons. The volunteers did a great job of grabbing your bike and would even fill your water bottles while you went to the bathroom if needed. Once at the turn around it was a tailwind all the way back to town which mentally was a nice break and it was fun to go faster. After going back through town and past the special needs bags (about mile 60) I checked my average speed and was shocked to see 15.4 mph. I decided I need to get on it a little more and was eventually able to bring it back up to just under 17mph. I definitely put more effort into the second lap and the winds up on the flats seemed to be increasing. I was very relieved to get to the turn around and head back the last 22 miles with a tailwind. Top speed on the bike segment on a descent was 42.8mph. My Garmin showed an elevation gain of just under 6300'. I thought it was a fun course with just the right amount of challenge although it would be nice to have a little less wind.Lots of fun.
Handed off my bike and again the volunteers were standing there in my row with my T2 bag. Great service! Headed into the change tent took a few deep breaths, did a full change of clothes changing into my OAR (Organization for Autism Research) tri jersey. Again didn't rush just tried to relax and keep my heart rate down.
My family was just outside of T2 so stopped to talk to them a little bit and welcomed the break. My son finally said "Dad, you better get moving and DIG DEEP! So off I went running through a main street in town with people cheering all the way, very cool. I felt pretty good and was running about 8 min miles but stopping every half mile to walk for 20 seconds or so. As I went through town this woman shouted to me that she liked the sun on my jersey and I told her it was for Autism. She gave me this quizzical look and I kept running. Later when I ran through town on the second loop she jumped out on the course and asked me a bunch of questions about Autism and the organization that I fund raised for, running with me a quarter mile or so, I thought it was pretty cool for someone I had never met. I kept up the run walk scenario until just after 5 miles where there is a pretty steep and long hill. I walked the hill and my average time went from just under 9 minutes a mile to 9:28 a mile. I tried to pick up the pace and get the time back but it just didn't work and I continued to slow down. Eventually I had to run less than a half mile and would walk longer than 20 seconds. I switched the walking segments from time based to getting my heart rate around 130 and then would start back up again. This is something that I am really going to work on for my next Ironman, staying stronger on the run for a longer period of time. I really liked this run course, my Garmin showed about 850 feet of elevation gain which is reasonable.
Two other things to mention about the run. On my second lap, about mile 16 or 17 you pass a Resort. There was a volunteer directing traffic at the entrance to the Resort and traffic wanting to enter was backed up with four or five cars wanting to enter the parking area. There was a pretty constant stream of runners and it looked like it might be awhile before the cars would be able to cross the path we were running on. The first vehicle was a van and apparently was tired of waiting and decided to drive through the runners on the path. People quickly started to jump out of the way and the volunteer took the big Stop sign she was holding and threw it in front of the van yelling for the driver to stop. As I approached, the driver jumps out of the van and starts yelling at the volunteer using not very nice words... as I went by he reaches down and grabs the big metal Stop sign from the ground and throws it...missing me by about an inch which got my attention pretty quick. I turned around and yelled what the heck are you doing!!? All the runners near me started shouting for someone to call 911 and screamed at the guy to get back in his car. I was pretty ticked off but kept moving. Can you imagine training this long for an event and to be within 8 or 9 miles of finishing only to be taken out by a guy throwing a Stop sign? Yikes.
The other thing that I wanted to mention is how the people of Coeur d'Alene really embrace this race. When you are running through town it is one big party, live bands, people with microphones announcing you as you run through their street. I didn't get any negative feelings at all from anyone local. Before after and during the race all positive support.
As I turned the final corner onto Sherman street a guy says " You got this Mike, only 7 blocks to go!" Any aches or pain that I had went away and I picked up the pace aided by the last downhill segment. The crowd was yelling and the runners were all separated by at least half a block, it really made you feel like a rock star. About two blocks from the finish I saw my family and ran to their side of the street high five'ing everyone. In an Ironman it doesn't really matter whether you are first, last or somewhere in between, that last run through the finish line and Mike Riiley saying you are an Ironman makes you feel like you won the race. A feeling you will never forget each time it happens, no matter how many Ironman races you complete.
A volunteer helped me throughout the finish line area, got my medal, t-shirt and hat. They directed me to the food where I grabbed a couple of pieces of pizza and a subway sandwich. Then waited for my family to show up with more hugs and congrats. Since the water of Lake Coeur d'Alene is so cold I thought it would be a good idea to go stand in the water for five minutes or so to cool down my legs. It felt great and was fun to stand and talk to my wife and kids. Life long memories for all of us, you just can't beat it.
This is a fun race. Be cautioned that the weather conditions can change quickly and it might not be a perfect day. Just go with it and accept it as part of the challenge. The course is great, probably one of the best bike road conditions of any that I have ever race. Beautiful venue and the local people fully support having Ironman come town. Put this race on your must do list!
Last updated: 2013-11-11 12:00 AM
World Triathlon Corporation
70F / 21C
Overall Rank = 667/2466
Age Group = 50-54
Age Group Rank = 39/186
Arrived in Coeur d'Alene on the Tuesday before the race. It was nice to come in early and check out the race venue. I went for a swim on Wednesday and was really glad that I did. The water was about 60 degrees and people were commenting on how warm it was...not for me. I had that panicky feeling the first minute I put my face in the water. After five minutes or so I became acclimated to the water and it didn't feel as bad but my feet were cold. It convinced me that I needed another swim before the race and would absolutely need to warm up on race day. If you are going to do this race make sure you swim prior to the start. If you start on the stairs that are to the left of the beach as you face the water it about a tenth of a mile to the big pole sticking out of the water at the end of the swim area. I also recommend swimming out toward the no wake buoys once or twice to get used to swimming into the waves. The wind is typically out of the S-SW and the waves will come directly at the beach.
Race morning I got up at 0430 and drank an Ensure followed by a Nutella sandwich and water. We headed out to the race site from our hotel at about 0515. We had talked to some of the locals that recommended that we park on Government Street and we found a spot about 9 blocks from the transition area. I had my wife body mark me at the hotel to save time. Plus I like to dedicate the race to someone/ cause and write their name on my calf (not an original idea but picked up after a good friend of mine wrote my name on his calf when I was injured and couldn't do IMLP). This years race was dedicated to Autism and some neighborhood kids including my son that are affected by it. Our fundraising efforts produced over $4000 for autism research. Anyway long explanation to say that since I was body marked and the temps were in the 50's I decided to put my wetsuit on at the car. It worked perfectly to keep me warm even if I did look dorky walking down the sidewalk. Once I arrived at the transition area my wife and kid headed out to find a spot to watch the swim over by the stairs at the left of the beach. This is a great spot for your family and they can easily walk over to the road that you will bike out on. I went to my bike that was located under a tree and turned on my Garmin....no signal after five minutes. I took the Garmin off and walked about 10 feet and turned it off and then back on again. Within a couple of minutes it picked up the satellites and locked in. Just as it did, I glanced back towards my bike in time to see someone pick up my morning bag with all of my nutrition for the day in it and walk off. I yelled to him but he didn't hear me so I sprinted after him and caught up to him within 25 yards and said "Hey you have my bag!" He looked stunned then looked down at the number on my bag and said "oh sh*t" dropped the bag and ran back to get his bag. So another long explanation to get to the moral of the story...T1 is located in a park full of squirrels and I read that the squirrels will sometimes get into nutrition if you leave it on the bike or in your T1/T2 bags that are left out on the ground. I decided that I didn't want to take that risk and brought everything morning of the race. I also turned on the myathletelive.com tracking device and left it on the bike once I saw that it had also picked up it's signal. I then headed over to my T2 bag and locked in the signal for my running watch that I left in the T2 bag. My main reason for doing this is that I don't like my wetsuit to stick on the watch after the swim and find it is just as easy to put the watch on in T2. I then headed over to find the family and give them a hug ad thank them for coming out to support me.
Once back in the swim area I looked out at the lake to see the white caps and thought this is going to be rough. I eased into the water and swam for about 5 minutes before seeding myself at the group expected to finish in 1:30. I normally would have moved up to the 1:15+ group but with the wind and waves felt that moving back was more realistic. The other point to consider is that with the rolling start it really doesn't matter, your time starts when you cross the start line.
I was very nervous about this race for lots of reasons that I won't go into...but just before the race I had a message from a friend of mine that told me I was prepared and that it was ok to focus on just me and the race. Simple advice but right on the money. I stood on the beach took a deep breath, reminded myself of that and felt at peace. I told myself "Ok it's time to go do this".