Ironman Coeur d’Alene 2013
With an Ironman looming, the general tendency is to become anxious, stressed out and sometimes even snappy. People start posting countdowns on their facebook page and the thoughts start to creep in: I didn’t do enough training, I don’t have the right gear, how am I possibly going to do this, I’m not ready. Rather than take this approach for Coeur d’Alene this year, I fully embraced the fact that I had an Ironman coming up and was actually looking forward to it. Does that sound weird? Well I paid $700 in entry fees alone, it should be something I look forward to, right?!
The beginning of my taper was glorious to say the least. Ironman is an extremely tough event; however… It is nothing in comparison to the training and sacrifice that goes into preparing for one. We don’t have kids yet, we only have a Boston Terrier named Oscar with an extreme anxiety disorder, but this is enough to leave us with absolutely no time to relax between full time jobs and household duties. Having training dialed back in a taper week feels like a vacation and I was loving it.
The drive down to Coeur d’Alene was much quicker than anticipated, about 7.5 hours with some coffee stops along the way. For accommodations we were absolutely blessed to be put in touch with a couple named Roye and Steve who graciously welcomed us into their home. They’re family friends of Jenna’s aunt and uncle and it made the trip for the both of us. Upon arrival we were greeted by a dog and cat that both desired affection. Something very foreign to us as Oscar will rarely let you pet him and if you leave the house for more than 5 seconds he’ll go bat-sh*t crazy on you upon return. Roye selflessly cooked amazing meals for us during our entire stay in addition to baking home-made gluten free bread, banana bread, cookies, lemon pound cake…. You get the idea, I was in heaven! They also live eight miles out of town on about 53 acres of property, this equaled getting the best sleep of my life. I think the Thursday night I slept 11 hours straight, something I haven’t done in years. This couldn’t have been any more positive for race preparations.
On Friday we went into town to test out the waters and check things out. Lucky for me and everyone else competing this year the water was a bearable temperature, I’m sure folks from California would strongly disagree but from what I heard from people that did the race the year before, this was as good as it gets.
Race morning wake-up at 330am and I was feeling good. I filled up on some yogurt and Roye’s homemade granola and I was good to go. Heading to transition was much smoother and much more accessible than Ironman Canada in Penticton last year. For starters there’s a huge free parking lot two blocks from transition, you don’t have to walk up and down eight city blocks to get body marked and spectators/family can get right up to the side of transition. I got everything set up quite quickly and had an hour to spare so I left transition and hung out near the beach with Jenna. After the pro start I headed down to the beach and attempted a warm up. Now unlike Penticton, there was an enclosed area that you had to use for warmup, it was nowhere near big enough and it was pure chaos. After 10 minutes of this I got out as it wasn’t worth having a head on collision.
The race start at Coeur d’Alene was unique this year, deaths occurring in triathlons as of late have really been brought to everyone’s attention, whether it’s something that has become more common or something that has always happened, I don’t know, I haven’t seen the statistics, but Ironman is trying to take an approach to reduce the risk of their occurrence. They decided to go with a time trial start rather than the traditional mass start. My experience with the swim is that it didn’t feel any different for me than the mass start in Penticton. I started at the front in Penticton and did the same in Coeur d’Alene. I did notice that it was less congested at the turn buoys but this could also be because I’m a faster swimmer this year. My personal opinion is that this format will be better for middle pack swimmers as the field breaks up more quickly, hopefully reducing anxiety. I don’t know if it reduces the risk of swim deaths as there are so many other factors for that but hopefully it improved some people’s experience and race by reducing anxiety and the likelihood of panic attics. Most people I was racing against would have been starting at the front of the race with me so I didn’t really have to worry on the run about where people seeded themselves.
Here’s some footage Jenna took just after the swim start to give you an idea of how things looked as a spectator.
Overall I had a great swim, I swam under an hour and didn’t feel I taxed myself too much trying to do it. I actually got a fair amount of drafting in which is a big improvement for me and I swam 4 minutes faster this year than last year. Who says you can’t learn to become a swimmer as an adult!
In T1 I felt a bit scatter brained but got through it and out on to the bike. I opted to wear arm warmers rather than arm coolers and it turned out to be a wise choice. I tossed them at an aid station when things warmed up later that day. I kept a conservative approach early on making sure I got my fueling and hydration in. When I decided it was time to go I picked up the pace and started making my way through the field. There’s no really tough climbing on this course, just some long steady climbs that seem to slow things down. There wasn’t a lot of flat areas either, I felt as though I was always riding a false flat. I didn’t feel great in the last portion of the bike however I still had a solid split riding 4:55. Despite not having my best effort on the bike I came out of T2 in 2nd position in the amateur race and 1st position in my age group.
Up to this point in the race, the day was going by quite quickly; I don’t think that’s uncommon. I often hear that the halfway point of an Ironman is around the 15-16 mile mark of the run and that is so true. Things go by pretty quickly for me until the second lap of the run, that’s when things go into slow motion. Maybe that’s because that’s when I really start to hurt. I started recalling on all of the hard workouts I had completed throughout the year, workouts that I didn’t think I could finish halfway through the set but stuck with them and always managed to get through. I just kept telling myself keep plugging away and you’ll get there, embrace what you’re doing and enjoy the journey.
I managed to have a very solid run improving my marathon by almost 9 minutes! Last year I went to the well in the last 5km’s of the run, this year I didn’t feel I had to and I felt so much stronger finishing. My final race time was 9:20:49 placing me 1st in the 25-29 age group and 6th overall in the amateur race. I’m very happy with the result as it’s a 10 minute improvement from last year and we still have another two months of training before Challenge Penticton, I’m really excited to see what we can put together there.
Again I’d like to thank my wife, Jenna, for being so supportive on our trip. Whenever I have the occasional doubt she’s always so quick to remind me that the possibilities of what I can achieve are endless, I just have to believe in myself. Roye and Steve for their extremely generous hospitality; it’s making this race a very attractive destination for years to come! My coaches Sean and Tara-Lee for helping me get here ready to throw down on race day in a well thought out manner, Dave at North Shore Road Bikes for always going above and beyond helping us obtain the best equipment and keeping our bikes running flawlessly. I also have to thank all of our friends and family that were so supportive leading up to the race and on race day. I don’t think anyone can successfully complete an Ironman without a huge support crew, I feel really blessed to have such a great one.
I believe it was Mark Allen that said, “You have to be fat in July to win in October.” Though I didn’t take my Kona spot, I am planning on stamping my ticket to Vegas in Calgary next month. On that note I’m going to embrace getting a little fat here at the end of June to win in September. Hope to see some of you at the pub this weekend!