Ironman Coeur d'Alene Race Report

3200 miles were driven and 140.6 miles were raced and it will go down as the two best weeks of my life. Granted, I did not qualify for Kona but as many of my friends and team mates have pointed out, the journey is what made the whole experience special, not necessarily the race and it is so true. Even my dream wedding and honeymooning in Australia for two weeks 10 years ago did not compare to the epic road trip I did with my wife and two kids topped off with a "dreamlike" vacation from the vacation in Las Vegas with some amazing people. Wow. Where to begin! Since this is a triathlon blog, I'll stick to the race...

We left Wednesday night to stay in Vegas for a night to avoid the dreaded SoCal traffic. We then headed to Park City, UT the next day to stay with some friends and get a quick glimpse of the beautiful mountain resort town. Thursday we drove to Yellowstone, saw Old Faithful and then drove to Missoula, MT for the night. Between Montana and Yellowstone, we saw some of the most beautiful parts of this country I've ever seen and I've been to every state except five. Breathtaking! Friday we finally arrived in Coeur d'Alene and although it was beautiful it didn't compare to what we just witnessed the day before! The city of Coeur d'Alene seemed like the whole good side of the street/bad side of the street. We were very unimpressed until we got around the resort and Ironman check-in area which was amazing.

Friday and Saturday was very low key. Check in, pre-workouts and getting around were very easy and simple. I was able to spend a lot of time napping, hydrating and staying off my feet. Come Saturday night I felt very rested and very hungry to leave it all out there the next day.

2.4 mile swim: 1:21:02 (2:05/100 yd pace) 141 out of 316 in AG

The day before the race I swam in the lake Coeur d'Alene choppy waters and wasn't so concerned. I've swam many times in Vail lake (local) which is always choppy and over the past month I've swam at La Jolla cove which can also be choppy. Well race day the wind was kicking pretty good. I actually laughed out loud when I saw the lake. We basically had to swim straight into it, make the turn home and then do it again. I told Flanny the day before that if he saw a 1:15 swim split to not be alarmed because I knew it was going to be a slow swim and I was not going to fight through it and potentially ruin my race. It was a "self-seeded" start so I ended up going in the second wave (1:00-1:15) group. There's no delay in between the waves, it's just a rolling start. It was definitely the most violent swim I've been in. Between getting a shiner on my forehead, swam over, and knocked around. I also had trouble siting -- whenever I tried a wave was blocking the buoys. I've learned over the past 4 years of doing triathlons that the best way to get through these kind of swims is to just relax, not force it and actually just smile. So that's what I did. Just took the punches and swam as strong as I could.

I hit the first lap in 36 minutes and was on pace to break 1:15. I was pretty disoriented when I got out of the water to make the turn to go back in. The waves and chop can really make you dizzy. I definitely felt the fatigue going into the current again on the second lap and could tell my pace dropped. I just did my best to get through it and not get overly concerned about it. I knew historically if you swam around 1:15 you still have a shot of a Kona slot. When I saw 1:20 on my Garmin when I came out, I just knew it was time to get to work and figured with my run - a 1:20 wouldn't take me out of the race.

T1: 4:46

First time experiencing the whole Ironman tent changing room. The volunteers were amazing. Got me out of my suit, my bike bag, sun screened me up, went pee #1 of the day and I was on my way.

112 mile bike/4500ft of climbing: 5:42 (AVG 19.6 mph) 46th in AG

The temperature was actually perfect. I went with no arm warmers and felt great. It was the wind that hurt me. It seemed like it continued to pick up momentum as the bike went on. Strong winds for my slender frame really took me out of the race. Based off of the last 8 months of using power, Flanny and I decided 190NP was going to be my magic number to ride a 5:00-5:15 bike split. With all of the intervals, hills, long days, short days etc...we had no doubt that the bike would be a huge advantage for me and I'd be able to run off the bike holding that power and crush this course. Well I held 189NP and rode 5:42 haha. You can check out data HERE. The only variable we couldn't factor in was the wind. I stayed very aero the whole race and did my best to fight through that wind but it just ended up being a day that favored the power riders. The ones that didn't get blown over by the wind on the bike and the ones that could power through the chop in the swim. HOWEVER. I still felt like I was in the race. My biggest maturity in triathlon over the past few years is that I learned times mean nothing in triathlon. There are so many variables in long course that your S,B,R times really don't mean anything nor do they tell the story of the race.

So I just kept eating and drinking, nailing my nutrition plan. I peed three times on the bike and never felt hungry or thirsty. I finally started feeling my efforts for the day right at mile 100. I fought to stay at 190 watts for the last 10 miles which tells me that Flanny's plan was spot on. Hard enough to question whether or not I could run off the bike but no cramping, GI issues or dreading the run. Even coming in at 5:42, I had a feeling that a lot of people's splits were slow so I still didn't throw in the towel, I knew I had work to do!

T2: 3:13

Again, the volunteers were awesome. Found my bag right away, slipped on my shoes, took another pee and off I went!

26.2 mile run/1500ft of climbing: 3:43 (AVG 8:31 pace) 36th in AG

Again, after months of training data - Flanny and I decided that 7:15 pace was going to be the magic number for me. Data found HERE. I got off the bike and that first mile felt a little bit weird. It just took some time to get my running legs off of me. I carried a flask of nutrition and just sipped on it while refueling it at each aid station with whatever sounded good. After the first mile, 7:15's became effortless and I knew I was going to have a good run. I just stayed on top of my nutrition, picked a stronger runner ahead of me in the distance and just worked my way up to them for the pass while staying on my own pace. It's a 2 loop course, basically go through a neighborhood, up the long hill and back x2.

The first lap (1/2 marathon) I was enjoying myself. Smiles, giving some fist bumps to the awesome house parties going on and just clicking off the miles. As I went through the first loop I saw my family, gave them a wave and saw that I clicked off a 1:34 half. Right on pace! Then like almost clock work the next mile I started getting some serious taste fatigue. Everything I tried to eat or drink I just spit it out. I tried drinking a lot of water and eating some pretzels to rinse my palate like I was drinking wine or something but with no such luck! I just gradually started bonking. Whenever I tried to force food down I felt like I wanted to puke. Not because of GI issues but because of the sweet food/taste fatigue I had going on. Everything was just gross. Sweet, salty - didn't matter. So my great pace eventually turned into a slow jog. I just did my best to keep form and stay positive. Those last 6 miles ended up being one of the toughest things I've ever been through. I was so stubborn and refused to walk and just forced myself through it.

Ironman isn't easy. These past several months haven't been easy. So when I arrived to that long finish chute it was almost like my mind just replayed pictures and videos of all of the good and bad in my life leading up to this race. I choked up big time. When you are in a lot of pain you become very vulnerable. With each step and high five I gave heading into the finish I was very proud of myself. Not just of the race but the entire "Kona Journey" that I've been on over the past year. It took every ounce of discipline mentally and physically to get there and even though it hurt that I did not qualify, when I crossed that finish line - that wasn't what was on my mind. My family was there and as I looked at their faces with watery eyes, I looked up into the sky and became an Ironman.

Final Result: 10:55:01, 36th in AG, 161st overall.

Thank you all for the amazing kind words and encouragement; this was truly an experience that I will never forget.

Thanks for reading-