Ironman Coeur d'Alene - TriathlonFull Ironman

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Coeur d'Alene, Idaho
United States
Ironman North America
brrrF / 0C
Total Time = 14h 24m 37s
Overall Rank = 1601/2032
Age Group = W40-44
Age Group Rank = 86/121
Pre-race routine:

Being an Ironman, the pre-race started the Thursday before the race. On Thursday, I got up early and picked up my brother and favorite training partner for an early morning swim and packet pick-up. When we got to CdA we saw...what??? WAVES! Wind and waves. None of our training has been like THIS! Got in and after fighting with waves for 16 minutes my arms and shoulders were shot. Uh-oh. Swam a couple more times out and back focusing on being V-E-R-Y relaxed. Some shopping in the IM village, then through registration. Eek! I have a NUMBER! And a marked SWIM CAP! And a CHIP! Guess this is real, huh?

Fast forward to Friday - re-read the directions and realize that transition bags have to be turned in on Saturday instead of Sunday morning - spend the afternoon packing and repacking. I finally got up the nerve to re-tape my handlebars with red tape - Syd was dressed up for the race too! It looks great. Afterwards, pick up my brother so we can go back to CdA for the welcome dinner and mandatory meeting. Dinner was fun sitting with our club and with McFuzz and Birkierunner from BT, the talk and videos were inspiring (how are we supposed to sleep after THAT?) and the meeting was about what was expected. Home late, to bed, then back up early to pack up the bikes and bags, pick up my brother and head back to CdA yet again. I wanted one more chance at the waves but didn't want to get my race-day wetsuit wet so I wore my sleeveless suit. Holy cow, that water was cold! And it gets into the sleeveless a LOT faster than into the other one. I had to stop and bob around a bit to catch my breath, then when I finally started swimming my arms stung. The waves were a lot easier to deal with, though, just gotta remember to stay relaxed.

Checked in the bikes and bags in record time - I remember seeing looooong lines at transition, did a little more shopping then back home to think about Special Needs Bags. A little family time - I'm sure they were wondering what has happened to me - pack up the bags and try to get to bed early. I slept fairly well.

Finally Sunday morning. Clock was set at 3:30, woke up at 3:28. Downstairs to let out the dogs and mix bottles - hmmm, only two bottles to mix? How can that be? Usually for my long workouts I have to take a lot more with me. How convenient to be using course water and course food for the run!

Drank two bottles of latte Perpetuem before leaving the house. Picked up my brother and wonderful wonderful sister-in-law who was going to be out there all day and drive us home, and headed to the race site. Got a primo parking spot, walked right by the Special Needs drop-off, and headed into transition to load up the bikes. I decided to carry both 4-hour nutrition bottles with me instead of putting one in my SN bag, that way I might not need to stop. Hooked on my Bento box pre-loaded with chamois creme, a little bag of assorted meds and three packages of Shot Bloks. Added my aerobottle and filled it up, screwed my CO2 cartridges on to my fancy new X-nut and loaded my tool bag into one of the bottle holders on the rear-seat bottle holder. I couldn't fit it under the seat after adding the bracket, so it takes up one of those cages. The other cage was empty for the moment. Oh yeah, borrowed a pump to top off my tires.

Found where to leave our dry clothes bag, then sat down in the grass with Mason to relax and watched the Iron-people go by. Transition closes at 6:30, so at 6:15, started to struggle into my wetsuit. Not wearing it the day before was the right choice. The wind was blowing quite hard and it was cold, so putting on a damp wetsuit would have been a lot less fun than putting on the dry one. I decided at the last minute to wear my neoprene cap - I was talking earlier and said, "If you're not going to overheat, why not wear it and stay as warm as possible," and I realized that was good advice. Glad I threw it in my bag after all. I also got out my new earplugs that I tried for the first time on Thursday. What a difference it makes NOT getting cold water in my ears! Looped my goggles over my arm and remembered that I had forgotten to BodyGlide. Crap. Took the top half of my suit back off, bodyglided neck and around arms, then struggled back into it. Left it unzipped so we could join the slow parade to the beach entry.

Everyone has to cross the mat to get to the beach, so 2000 athletes have to funnel through a small gap in the seawall. Takes a while. Saw some buddies along the way, hung out with my brother and seeded myself waaaay to the right. It was really cold on the beach, I'm glad we waited as long as we did before going there. The water was cold, but was warmer than the air, the wind was howling and I could see whitecaps in the water. I think it was a little calmer at the start than when we got to CdA, though.

Listened to the Star Spangled Banner through my earplugs - duh, why didn't I leave them out for that? Then heard a little pop that was the cannon and realized it was time to go. Huh. Apparently my watch is a little slow, I thought we had a couple of minutes left. It all comes down to this. Gave my brother a hug, wished him good luck, and off we went.
Event warmup:

Nope, figured the day was plenty long without any warmup. Besides, it was cold enough. If I had gotten into the water I would have been frozen before even starting the swim.
  • 1h 26m 20s
  • 4224 yards
  • 02m 02s / 100 yards

Apparently I seeded myself in the right place. When the cannon went off, I walked down the beach letting the faster swimmers get started. I waded in and just started swimming. The water was warmer than the air on my feet, hands and face, but definitely cold seeping into the suit. I was able to start swimming right away without any gasping for air or anything.

I sighted off a hill that was behind the far corner buoy with the idea that I'd swim straight for the buoy, then be sure to swing wide when I got there. I breathed to the right for the outbound leg, and was surprised at how many people were to the outside of me. It was pretty wavy and there were whitecaps, but they didn't bother me at all - I just tried to stay relaxed and smooth. I did miss a few breaths with the waves, but just kept going and it was fine.

I had mostly clear water for the first leg, but was further inside than I had planned and was surrounded by swimmers. Rather than turn sideways and try to fight my way out, I decided to go with it and hope that we all didn't get stopped. We all swam pretty wide, and all kept swimming, so it worked out better than planned.

Once we turned the corner, I had no clue where I was going. The sun was in my eyes, the water was splashing, and I couldn't see the second corner at all. In addition, it felt like we'd only made about a 60 degree turn and were swimming out into the lake. I tried to sight a few times, got several facefulls of water, then figured I had a whole bunch of swimmers on either side of me who were all going in the same direction so I would just go with them. Eventually I saw the intermediate buoy and finally the second turn. This short leg was the only one where I felt a little anxious and my breathing got a bit out of hand with the uncertainty, but I told myself it was a long swim and to settle down, and amazingly enough, I listened.

The swim back to shore was fun with the waves pushing us along. I was closer to the buoy line and in with more swimmers, but again there wasn't much contact. I got pinched by two swimmers in front of me several times, but just moved sideways and kept going.

At shore, you have to get out and walk across a mat (well, I walked, some were running). I took the time to get a gel out of my sleeve and eat it. Some of our club members were right there against the barriers cheering and yelling - that was a great boost. I had hoped to walk down the beach then head straight out along the buoy line, but we were directed right back into the water and angled out to the first corner. Now it was time to do it all again.

The waves were bigger this time, I swam a lot closer to the buoy line, and there were more people around me. Most swimmers seemed very considerate of those around them but I swam next to one person who just kept hitting me. Finally realized I could move sideways - another duh moment - but soon we were bumping again. This was the only hard effort I put forth during the swim, but I kicked and did a few hard strokes and finally left him. I was ready for the uncertainty of the short leg and followed the other swimmers until I could see the turn buoy. The rest of the lap was just a long but calm swim. I was happy to get out of the water.

First lap was :41:49, second was 44:31.
What would you do differently?:

Transition 1
  • 12m 22s

When I got out of the water, I took of my caps and goggles, took out my earplugs, and attempted to take off the top half of my wetsuit. I was not in a hurry to run up the beach. I got my suit off to my upper arms and it got stuck. It was a bit of a struggle, but I was able to finally work off the arms by the time I got to the strippers. Two wonderful women caught my eye and beckoned me over, I asked them what to do, sat down and my wetsuit was off before I knew it. They hauled my back to my feet, handed me my suit, and I was off to transition. I heard them shouting my number to the bag handlers, but walked up and found my own bag.

When I got to the tent, there were a few chairs available but all the helpers looked busy. Huh, how was I supposed to have the whole Ironman experience without someone to dump out my bag? I walked to the far end of the tent, found a chair, sat down and started thinking about what to do. I had my clothes changed, chamois all buttered up and was sunscreened before someone was free. And who was it but my dental hygienest who I've known forever. What a treat that she was in there, and able to help me. She helped with arm warmers (youngest daughter's tights that I had cut thinking that if it warmed up I could discard them without feeling too bad) and helped me get organized with all the little stuff I needed. I'm not sure what took 12 minutes, but by the end I felt like I had everything I needed and was ready to ride.

On the way out to my bike, the cheering was insane - I loved it. Above it all, I heard a very surprised, "Colleen? There's Colleen! COLLEEN!" It was my wonderful friend and her sister over by the barricades raising up a sign with my name on it! How fun!

I had the best bike slot in the whole race - the first rack all the way on the end. I went straight to my bike, unracked it, and walked the loooong path to the bike exit. I have to say I loved all the cheering. Friends and strangers were yelling for me. My friend with the sign got to the mount line before me and was there yelling when I was getting on. Fun times!
What would you do differently?:

  • 7h 15m 28s
  • 112 miles
  • 15.43 mile/hr

The wind was blowing strongly when I left transition and just kept getting stronger all day. The good thing was that it never bothered me, somehow I just stayed in the moment and dealt with it. I never once thought how much the wind sucked. I thought that a LOT during training, but today it was just what we had. It was fun to say things like, "All RIGHT, a headwind!" and "Do you suppose we could get just a little MORE wind?" as I passed or was passed all day.

The first loop out to Higgins point and back went well. I pedaled easily but had to keep reminding myself that it was a long day. Everyone was right in that the first bit of the ride you feel great. I was glad to be on my bike, glad to be riding and it was fun to be out there with all the other riders. The other thing that people are right about is that there is no way to NOT draft during the first part. I was surrounded the whole time - people everywhere. The good news is that for the most part, the passers just kept right on going and I didn't have to worry about dropping back. Going North out of town was a blast having all the roads blocked off. I felt like such a rockstar going through town with the streets lined with cheering people.

Saw my brother on the out-and-back just a little ways behind me. I knew he was worried about the swim cutoff with a bad shoulder, so I was really happy to see him as soon as I did. He looked great.

The first hill loop was harder than I had expected. I'm not sure if it was the wind or what, but my legs didn't feel as strong as I hoped they would. I figured that they had felt this way during training and I always made it around the second loop then, so I could do it again. Made both sharp corners with no problem - both times I was glad I knew they were coming - they still scare me, though. Had to brake on my favorite downhills because of too many people riding in the middle of the road...bummer. I rode the "Gary Hill" - the hardest one for me but that has a great smiley realtor sign right before the hard part. I tried to explain Gary to the rider next to me, but he didn't get it. Oh well. I missed riding with my brother. HE got it. Then "Bathroom Hill" where we always stopped at the POP at the top. What? No POP? Guess I'll have to wait. Saw my brother again at this out-and-back, and he was closer. He was closer each time I saw him during the day, and always smiling.

Before too long I was riding back to town. Riding out of and back to town were on roads that I had not trained on, but were nice - wide and smooth.
After the short out and back on NW Blvd, it was 2nd Lap Left, instead of Finish to the Right. Back out I go.

Special needs was at Higgin's point, at about 63 miles. My 4-hour nutrition bottle ran out just about then, but there was no water there to fill up my second one. I didn't need anything from my SN bag so I just kept going. I stopped at the aid station at the top of the hill to fill my nutrition bottle with water, shake it up and switch it out. Got right back on and off I went.

It was just as fun to ride through town, past our TeamBlaze tent and all the people, then out on the long straight. The second hill loop was not as fun - but again I was able to just roll with it. The only down time I had all day was fuing this loop when I had about 2 and a half hours left to ride. My legs were feeling much more fatiged than I wanted, in fact more fatigued than even at the end of any of my training rides, and I wasn't even done with the ride yet. I was feeling pretty discouraged at that point, but remembered reading on BT that "no matter how you feel, don't worry because it will change." So I was able to leave that feeling behind, and pretty soon even though I was still tired I was feeling happy again.

I was well-hydraded and stopped 2 or 3 times during the ride. The last time I stopped I was going to re-butter my chamois, but I forgot the stuff in my bike bag and decided I'd be ok.

Finally got into town and was happy to be on the final out-and-back. I was zipping along (for me, anyway) on the road on my speedy tri bike, and what do I see on the sidewalk? A mtb riding with a dog on a leash. And I kept seeing them, since I wasn't catching them very quickly at all. Boyohboy that dog was fast. When I finally caught up with them, I asked the rider how far the dog could run like that. He said she was good for 15 miles! Wow.

It was very windy (did I mention the wind?) and the sky threatened all day, but I may have felt one raindrop while riding.

And oh yeah, remember the empty water bottle cage? I took an empty bottle with me from T1 and stuffed my vest into it when I took it off. Having anything in my pockets bothers me while riding but I really wanted it in the early part of the ride. It worked great!

Made the final turnaround, rode back and took the 'Finish to the Right' path. Yay! I rode down a long sidewalk corridor to the bike-in area, handed off my bike to the catcher (kind of sorry to see it go) and stopped at the POP before getting my bag. I was very happy with my bike time and with my ride.
What would you do differently?:

Appeased the wind gods?

I never really felt like I was riding too hard, but I must have done something to have felt so fatigued.
Transition 2
  • 09m 30s

Had a helper this time. I asked her name because I wanted to include her in the report, but I can't remember it now. Darn! She changed my sunglass lenses, got my Garmin synched up, and helped me get through the stuff in the bag.

Boy did it feel good to sit down. I got my shoes and socks on before I remembered to take off my helmet and gloves. I had put the bodyglide in my shoe so I wouldn't forget it, so I put it in the usual spots, but FORGOT MY FEET! That is the main reason it was in the bag in the first place - I can't believe I did that. Everything else was good though. I changed under-clothing support system, then put my tri top back on, changed my shorts for a run skort, remembered to take off my gloves, but decided to leave my arm-warmers on since it was so chilly. I opted to leave my long-sleeved shirt in the bag thinking that I should be able to run at least the first lap and would be warm enough while running. I had another one in my SN bag. While I was in there for almost 10 minutes, the change actually felt faster than that. Maybe I took a nap or something and didn't notice?
What would you do differently?:

BodyGlide my FEET. Cripes.
  • 5h 20m 59s
  • 26.2 miles
  • 12m 15s  min/mile

It started to rain just as I was heading out of transition, but just like the wind on the bike, it didn't bother me. I figured it was just part of the day. This is SO unlike me - I'm really really happy with my ability to worry only about the things over which I had any control.

By the time I finally left transition, my legs were in pretty good shape considering what they had been through.

Except for walking the entire length of each aid station, I ran every mile until mile 23 (I think). At that point I walked more than I ran for the rest of the race. I was getting sore before then, and noticed it mostly when I started running after walking the stations. My quads were the worst, and really hurt when I started running so I found myself tensing up my whole body to try to stop the jiggling until I eased back into my pace.

At about mile 7 a wonderful woman ran up to me and stuck with me the whole rest of the race. She walked when I walked, ran when I ran, kept at my pace... it was great for me! She was very interesting and we had a great 19-mile conversation. :) We had so much in common - AND her brother was racing that day too!

On the first out and back, I saw my brother really close to me after the turnaround. He still looked great - running smooth and easy with a big soon-to-be-iron smile on ihs face. In fact, he was smiling every time I saw him. This course is wonderful since you are able to see people twice each loop.

It was cold and rainy, and at SN I picked up my LS shirt. Ahhhh, it felt so good! AND finally put BodyGlide on my feet. I had stepped in a puddle and soaked one of them, but even before that I was starting to feel some hot spots. My buddy had stopped at a POP while I ran up to SN, then she stopped and stretched while I was finishing off my feet and we ran off together again.

I took in gel or gatorade at most aid stations. Nearer the end I tried some pretzels - I was hungry but couldn't take any more gel at that point. I walked a bit to let them settle, but they worked great. I was afraid to try the chicken broth or cola since my stomach was just on the border of being upset.

The best part of the whole day was when I was running back into town the first time - my hubby and kids were right there cheering for me. I stopped to give them all a kiss, then ran on. They were all wet and cold so I thought they'd go home, but when I came back from the short loop a half-hour later, there they were again! I am so lucky to have my family, and just love them so much! I left for my second long loop with a smile on my face.

By mile 23, the jiggling muscles hurt enough that I didn't want to run much. I still managed to run a little bit of each mile, but the bits got shorter. I walked with a purpose until the last turn before the long downhill to the finish. I also sent my buddy ahead - she deserved to get her finish.

I started running just before the corner and as soon as I turned it I could see the finish. Again, people were right, I felt GREAT that last few blocks. I loved the cheering and couldn't stop smiling. Saw a couple of buddies and stopped to give them a hug, and ran on down slapping hands and grinning.

I almost forgot to listen for Mike Reilly calling my name but caught it at the last minute, and forgot to look at the clock. I had to wait until I logged on to see my finish time.

Wow, what a day.
What would you do differently?:

Post race
Warm down:

My catcher caught me, wrapped me in a mylar blanket and asked how I was doing. I had to say fine, but asked him to wait with me for a minute. He walked me to the medals, the hat, the t-shirts and to get my finish picture taken. He was smiling and asked me about my day - I said it was great. He asked me what my least favorite part of the day was... I had to answer that I didn't have one. And it was true, I couldn't think of one bad thing. Despite the wind, the hills, the rain and the cold (I could see my breath inside the POP) not one bad thing came to mind. What a great feeling that was.

Another wonderful friend was there right outside the barricades so I stopped to give her a hug and have a quick chat, then walked over for water and pizza, then headed back to see if I could catch my brother's finish. The last time I had seen him he said it had turned into a bit of a walkfest so I thought he'd be a bit behind, but as soon as I walked up toward the finish I heard Mr. Reilly call his name. The crowd was parted just right so I could see him flying down the chute, and his huge smile as he came across the line. That was the perfect end to a perfect day.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Nothing this day. More years of training, less weight and knowing what to expect will help next time, but this time things worked great. I was expecting about a 15-hour finish, so 14:24 was wonderful. Next time I will do more bike intervals - I saw a big improvement in my run times with all the Z2 and Z4 work, but most of my rides were Z1 to low Z2.

I was very happy with my ability to just deal with things as they came. With the exception of feeling discouraged on the bike, I never consciously had to redirect myself from any negative feelings. The wind, the cold, the rain - no problem - it's Ironman. The fatigue? Well, it's Ironman, you're supposed to be tired.

The race itself was not the transcendant experience I expected. A couple of times I reminded myself that I was racing an Ironman to see if I could stir up those feelings, but mostly it was just a long day. A long, catered day with lots of company. I saw a lot of suffering out on the course, and was glad it wasn't me. No matter how bad you are hurting, there is always someone who feels worse than you.

Finishing was that experience, and afterward I felt it, and today I still feel it.

What a wonderful day.

And for anyone who got this far, you should sign up for an Ironman since you are obviously very persistant!

Event comments:

As an M-dot race, it was very well organized. The CdA course is beautiful and challenging.

I hope to come back and do this race again in a couple of years. For now, though, it's time to pay my family back for all the support they gave me over the last year.

Last updated: 2008-07-14 12:00 AM
01:26:20 | 4224 yards | 02m 02s / 100yards
Age Group: 67/121
Overall: 121/2032
Performance: Good
Only glanced at my HR when I got out between loops, 142. But I've never watched it swimming before so I have no idea if that is high or low.
Suit: Blueseventy Helix full
Course: Two loop course. A long rectangle out into the lake approx 900 yards each side, with about a 150 yard short leg. Get out between loops, run across a mat, then angle back out to the first corner buoy and do it all again.
Start type: Wade Plus: Shot
Water temp: 62F / 17C Current: High
200M Perf. Good Remainder: Good
Breathing: Good Drafting: Average
Waves: Navigation: Good
Rounding: Good
Time: 12:22
Performance: Good
Cap removal: Good Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? No Run with bike: No
Jump on bike: No
Getting up to speed: Good
07:15:28 | 112 miles | 15.43 mile/hr
Age Group: 89/121
Overall: 1752/2032
Performance: Good
Tried to keep my HR in Z1 as much as possible - saw it higher a few times, mostly up hills, and tried to lower it again.
Wind: Strong with gusts
Course: Hills with wind. Two lap course, four times through town on each loop. Out and back to Higgins point, long hilly North loop, out and back on Northwest Blvd, rinse, repeat.
Road: Smooth Dry Cadence:
Turns: Good Cornering: Good
Gear changes: Good Hills: Average
Race pace: Comfortable Drinks: Just right
Time: 09:30
Overall: Good
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike
Racking bike
Shoe and helmet removal Good
05:20:59 | 26.2 miles | 12m 15s  min/mile
Age Group: 73/121
Overall: 1457/2032
Performance: Good
HR stayed in Z1 most of the time.
Course: Two lap run - sort of a figure-8 with an out-and-back on either side of town.
Keeping cool Good Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %-1%
Overall: Good
Mental exertion [1-5] 5
Physical exertion [1-5] 5
Good race? Yes
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