Ironman Coeur d’Alene Race Week
Race week FLEW by just like I knew it would. I worked two and half days before flying to Washington, and tried really hard to keep my stress levels low. I’m normally a high stress and very anxious person, so I knew this was something I needed to work on. I didn’t want to waste my energy on anything that wasn’t triathlon related!
My appetite decreased two weeks before the Ironman. I was paying close attention to eating clean, healthy, whole foods during my taper, but I also didn’t want to eat as much as usual. While others were naturally gaining weight from working out less, I unintentionally dropped 4 pounds before the trip and was down to about 106 on the Wednesday before the race. (Not sure if I lost more.) My nerves were kicking in, and I didn’t like to talk about the race much. I was pretty much terrified of getting sick too, so I basically tried to avoid all human contact. (Paranoid much?)
Wednesday night we stayed in Spokane with Jeremy’s family, and Thursday morning Jeremy and I drove to Coeur d’Alene. We went straight to the lake to checkout the scene. It was beautiful. The water, the trees, the town. It reminded me of the beauty you’d find in Colorado where I went to high school, and I liked that. I spoke to a couple of men going out for a swim and confirmed that the beach to my right was indeed the official IM CDA beach start. It looked to peaceful; I had a hard time imagining it full of over 2,000 triathletes.
Around 9:30am, Jeremy and I got in line for athlete check-in which opened at 10am. Triathletes are very Type A and like to get things done early. I spoke to a woman who did IMCDA in 2011, and she told me about her difficult cold swim and inability to function in T1. Her hands were so cold that she couldn’t get her hair into a pony tail…So she chopped all her hair off and was sporting a boy haircut this time around. Hardcore, and awesome!
That definitely reinforced my fear of the swim, though. I’m a slow swimmer, so I knew I’d be in the cold sub 60 degree water for at least 1 hour 30 minutes. (Average time is about 1 hr 16 mins, and the swim cutoff time is 2 hr 20 mins.) I think the water temp was around 56 degrees on race day in 2011. It turned out to be 57 degrees for us on race day this year.
TriBike Transport didn’t open until 1pm, so we ventured for food, decided on Pita Pit (one of the only chains around), and then went back to get our bikes. Nerves kicked in and I couldn’t finish my pita as I sat quietly in line with all the other IMCDA hopefuls, not wanting to talk to anyone. I was nearly in tears. Was this really happening? Was I ready? Everyone else looked bigger, stronger, and more experienced than me. Granted, I had only started swimming and cycling 1 year ago, but I knew that coming into this. I was just reminded of my newbieness hearing everyone talk about their IM war stories. I felt overwhelmed and sick to my stomach every time I went into the athlete village. I definitely internalized it differently than my peers and tried to stay away from large groups. I was always calmer when I was either working out or relaxing at our bed and breakfast.
We stayed at a local B&B only 0.4 miles from the start line called the GreenBriar Inn. I’d highly recommend it to anyone looking for a local place to stay during the race. Free breakfast is included with your stay, and there are only 5 rooms, so you don’t have to worry about the crowds. I think every room had an Ironman in it. Avoid rooms #1-2 if you can because they are very small.
After we checked-in, Jeremy and I went for our first lake swim. It was cold, but not as cold as I expected, probably because it was over 80 degrees outside and I was ready for a cool dip! I got out of the water after my 15 minute swim with a new found confidence. I was going to do this! That night we went into Spokane for Jeremy’s brother’s girlfriend’s graduation dinner at PF Changs. (Congrats, Lindsey!) I had some veggie fried rice and water and was ready to get into bed by 10:30pm.
Friday morning there was an unofficial group practicing a mass swim start at 7am on the beach, so Team WODS went to join in. There couldn’t have been more than 50 people, and I was already nervous! How was 2,700 people starting at the same time going to feel?? I got through the swim start just fine, though, and enjoyed my 20 minute easy swim. I was shivering when I got out of the water this time, so that made me nervous for race day. I wasn’t sure how my body was going to cope with being in cold water for much, much longer. Reported temperature for that day was 59 degrees. A huge improvement from the 53 degree report 5 days earlier, so I tried to be optimistic. The water temp at Oceanside 70.3 was somewhere in the high 50s as well.
At 9am TriBike Transport (the company I used to ship my bike and would highly recommend) hosted a group bike ride of the run course, which was also part of the bike course, so we set off for a 14 mile bike ride. This was longer than I wanted to be on my bike that day, but I really wanted to ride the course and make sure my bike was working properly after shipping it and not riding it for 1 week. This was my 1 bike workout in CDA. I felt great on my bike, even up the hills, and thought that it wasn’t going to be that bad on race day. My confidence was growing.
We spent the rest of the day preparing our race bags and making our race lists. I used hot pink tape to make sure I could easily identify my race bag. Thanks for the tip, Nicole, and fellow blogger friends! I also made the following lists: what to do in T1 (in case I needed a volunteer to help me), what to eat and drink on the bike, and what to do race morning.
Friday night was the athlete dinner. The main message I got from the evening was that I WILL finish! Team WODS was there with their gear on in full support. I love my family! I want to thank my mom, dad, Aunt Joanne, Uncle Jack, Aunt Michelle, Uncle Virgil, cousin Meriah, cousin Anthony, as well as Jeremy’s family, including his mom, two brothers, and the girlfriends. All of them came out to support Team WODS that weekend. It was so appreciated!
Saturday morning we ran for 10 minutes with four 20 second pickups at 90% effort. That was our only workout of the day, not including all the walking we did. We checked our bikes and T1/T2 bags in the transition area and tried to relax, but we ended up walking around more than I would have liked. I tried to take deep breaths and remain calm. Everyone kept commenting on how quiet I was.
We located the swim in, swim out, bike in, bike out, run out, and finish line and did one more stop in the expo. Here’s a map of transition.
I didn’t see anything I wanted at the expo and decided to wait until Monday when they made all the IM CDA finisher gear available. My mom said she’d buy me an Ironman necklace and a finishers jacket. I had already spent $100 on t-shirts, a hat, and other misc items. I also had time to send Mike Reilly a tweet telling him how to pronounce my name (since he got it wrong at Oceanside 70.3.) I understand. It’s pretty complicated!
Jeremy and I did a pasta dinner with my parents and his mom and brothers, and I had to force feed myself since I was so nervous. I found it easier to eat the pre-sliced butter bread than the pasta I ordered. I was able to get 10 hours of sleep Friday night, and about 6 hours race night. I was surprised at how easily I slept through the night. I think I only wokeup once.
Sunday morning I wokeup ready to tackle whatever the day had in store for me…Sadly, I was part of the 7% that did not finish. That post is coming next.