Everything you could want to know about my Ironman Coeur D Alene experience!

This is really long, so be prepared!

Days leading up to the race:

We arrived at the airport in Spokane at 1:00am our time!  That didn’t matter much, because we had an incredibly relaxing morning/day planned for Thursday.  We stayed in Spokane that night and I had a fabulous morning working out in the hotel gym, eating a good breakfast and gorging on coffee.  We took our time getting out the door, did some ($175 ) worth of grocery shopping and began the 30 minute commute to Coeur D Alene.  It had been pouring rain for 2 days in this area, and the expo was a mess.  It was cold, muddy and miserable.  We snagged my registration and got the heck out of there.  I used tri bike transport to get my bike to and from…and I will continue to always do that.  Worth every penny!

Let’s talk about food.  I stayed in a house with my friend Joe, my mom and a new friend (that I just met) Susan.  We ate all day every day!  Our kitchen was full of almond milk, almond butter, bananas, apples, sweet potatoes, all natural breads, organic this, organic that.  No starving athletes in this house.

 
Some thoughts before I get into the nitty gritty:

 

I am not going to sit here and talk about the “what ifs”, the “would haves” and “should haves.”  I executed my race plan perfectly, pretty damn close to my ability level.  I, like most people had a few things happen that could have lead to a better time, for me a 2nd place finish.  So, I will just highlight those areas throughout my blog and leave it at that.  An ironman is a long day.  I have finished 8 of them…I know all of the really bad things that can go wrong.  I am sure the 2nd place chick had issues as well.  After seeing the 4thplace girl, she definitely looked like hell.  So, truth be told it was a battle out there. The good news is that I had enough things go right to snag a 10:27 race and a 33 minute PR on a hilly course and on a beautiful day.

 

The Swim

 

I was a little freaked out about 1 thing: FREEZING and being cold on the bike.  I was not cold out all!  The water temperature was 61 degrees, and I had a neoprene swim cap and swim socks.  I had a great experience with the rolling start and I think it is a great addition to Ironman swim starts.  There was still a monumental surreal feeling at the start, but just not AS many people fighting for the same water.  I probably started a little too far back, but that’s because I was doing my dynamic warm up exercises before the spotJ  I’m getting old, I have to warm up the rusty abductors and glutes!

 

The swim went very smooth and the water was calm.  We had a perfect sun rise and it was very peaceful out there.  I glanced down at my Garmin and it said I was swimming at a 1:30 pace for the first lap.  That should have been a 1:04 pace.  Apparently something was wrong, either didn’t swim straight or the course was a bit long (maybe a bit of both).  I came out of the first lap at 35 minutes which is awesome for me.  I had a huge smile on my face and I felt like I was getting stronger as I went.  I glanced down again, and now it said I was swimming at a 1:25 average pace.  Rock on sista!  And then…I turned around a buoy and couldn’t see anything because of the sun.  So, I followed the group I was with and we ended way out in the middle of nowhereL  I probably lost 3-4 mintues in that move alone.   However, 2 years ago, I was a 1:19-1:19 swim finisher, even without going off course.  Believe it or not, I was 31st out of the water.  Oops, but making progress…  I know I am capable of a 1:07-1:10, I just need to do it.

TOTAL SWIM TIME: 1:13:54

 

T1

I did not have a fast transition, but the reason is that I had to pee!  I cannot pee while swimming or moving.  So, the volunteer handed me my bike and I said excuse me while I sit here and stretchJ  Ha Ha.  It was so obvious that I was peeing in the grass!  Total amount of time to pee in the grass :30  Other than that, it was fairly seamless. 

 

Bike

 

So the whole reason I picked this course was because I was sick of “bigger/more powerful” girls getting the best of me on flat courses.  So I said fine, I will find a race that goes up hill AND I will lose 10 pounds on my already petite frame.  And, that I did.   Thank you to Lindsay Langford for keeping me on track with my bod pod assessments at St. Vincents!  I got down to 13.5% body fat and gained 2 pounds of muscle in the process.

I trained my ass off on the bike, not with volume…but with intensity.  I did a lot of strength work/high zone 3/low zone 4, more v02 sessions than I can remember and whole lot of threshold workouts.  Here are some key things to note about my bike training:

·         I never rode more than 90 miles.  But, that 90 miles was brutally hard (thanks Scott Bond!)

·         I did intervals of some sort 3 times a week. 

·         I only rode 3 times a week (Tue/Thur/Sun)

·         I did a few bike races this spring/early summer

·         I focused on strength intervals on one of those interval days

·         I lost 10 pounds of body fat

·         I never did a long brick or did a training session that put me so far over the edge that I needed more than 2 days to recover. 

·         I rode with purpose, and rode the computrainer a lot for most of my sessions.  I probably rode outside 1x a week.

·         I always train with power, and new just what I was capable of if my stomach cooperated.

 

First Loop:  Everything went super smooth and I nailed my nutrition.  My goal power for this race was 160 norm power.  Side note: Everybody likes to keep their power numbers a secret, but I am a coach and  a teacher.  I think that it is important for people to understand why I use power, and    why training with power is such a training and racing advantage. 

I hit 165 norm power on my first loop (my average was not that far off, because I am fairly efficient at pedaling the downhills and not coasting to drink, eat, ect… That is over a 3.0 power to weight ratio.  Hell yeah to healthy eating and discipline.  I did get stuck behind super slow people on the no pass zone.  It only affected me three times out of the 8 no passing areas.  Total time lost in the no passing zone (about 1 minute).  I also missed a bottle hand up, because there were kids handing them out and the bottles  were super slippery!  So, I stopped very quickly, to grab the bottle (about :30)

 

My second loop was 162 norm power.  So, I held it fairly steady, but coasted a bit more towards the end to let my legs flush out before the run.  I did find myself out in no man’s land for the first time ever.  I figured that was a good sign and that I was at least close to the front of the race.   Although I’m not a great bike racer (relatively speaking to steady state triathete), I could tell that I had an advantage over a lot of people through the turns, down hills and technical sessions.   I tried to pee on the bike, but it wasn’t successful.  One day, maybe I will figure that out. 

Total Bike Tiime: 5:33:28 and PR by 10 watt average and 11 minutesJ 
163 Norm Power/ 154 Average Power
TSS = 368
IF = 81.5%
KJ = 3,085
I had the fourth fastest age group bike split. 

 

T2
Fairly uneventful.  I passed a few girls in the tent and never looked back.  I did pee in transition (porta potty this time (:30 seconds)

 

Run

 

This is where it gets rough out there, for all of us.  I felt GREAT for the first 10 miles, averaging 7:40s on the flat sections and 7:50-7:55 on the smaller uphill sections.  The big hill was a beast, but the downill on the back side helped to even out the paces (as long as you ran the damn thing).   The running/bike path that we were on was off camber.  That will mess with tired legs.  I feel bad for anyone who had right leg IT band issues, because it made things a bit rough.

 

At mile 11, my stomach started to get gassy.  At mile 13, I started looking for a porta potty.  At mile 14, I found one and had to wait in line.  We were in a neighborhood and it wasn’t like I could just pop a squat anywhere.  Total time lost (2 mintues), but I really had to go or would not have been able to keep on running.  When I crossed the dreaded “turn here for lap 2”, I was getting nervous about my stomach.  But, when I looked at my watch I had come in around a 1:43 ½ marathon time.  Helz yeah!  System shut down came 1 mile laterJ  But, I rebounded thank God.

After the bathroom stop, I was ready to roll again and feeling much much better.  I wasn’t clipping a long as fast as the first ½, but I was still running 7:50-8:15 pace (except for the big hill section).  I drank coke and water at every aid station, power bar perform drink at every other.  That worked out well for me, although I could have used another gel.  That might have given me an energy boost on the back half.  But honestly, I couldn’t imagine choking that thing down with my queasy stomach.  The coke tasted amazing!  Best tip ever from Maccas book!

Let me make it clear that my previous Ironman marathon PR is a 3:49 and I thought that was awesome.  So, imagine my surprise to see a 3:31 when I looked down at my watch…even with the bathroom stop and a mother trucker of a hill that I had to climb a few times.  This ended up being the 2nd fastest age group run time!  My goal time was a 3:30, if I had a perfect day…pretty damn close to hitting that very optimistic  goal. Here are some fun facts about my run training:

·         I never ran more than 18 miles in training.  My focus was on race intensity and recovery.

·        Every long run had race pace intervals included (7:25-:45) For example, my longest run was 6 x 15 minutes at race pace with a 4 minute RI

·         I never skipped a long run or key run workout. 

·         I never did a long run after a long bike.

 

Post Race Recap/Awards Ceremony

 

10:27: 40
3rd place 30-34
5th place overall amateur female
15th place overall female

What can I say, I have been working really hard the past 2 years, and I would say that it paid off.  I have been using Justin Trolle, with Vanguard Endurance, as my coach and professional coaching mentor.   It has been a great experience and I have learned a lot personally and professionally.

After doing some math on race evening, I realized that there were probably only going to be 2 Kona slots.  With all of the Ironman races popping up, slot allocation has been shrunk down to 50 for most US races.  I headed to the Kona tent anyhow, to see if there maybe…just maybe was a 3rdslot.  THERE WAS!!!!!!!  I laughed, I cried, I jumped up and down…every emotion possible took over me at that moment.  This has been a dream of mine for a very long time.  The Hawaii Ironman is a bucket list item for me.  I have been to Hawaii for a vacation once before (in 2005), and I told my mom that the next time we go it will be for the Ironman.  It’s been 8 years since we had that conversation.  I can’t believe it took me this long to qualify!   BUT IT DID!

I cried twice out there on the bike because I was so happy.  LAME!  I wished my husband was there like none other.  He would have been so proud of me for passing so many people and racing my bike!  I cried again when I saw that I had a slot.  I cried again during the Kona roll down because it was CRAZY intense watching everyone’s  Kona dreams come true.   All of my tears were tears of happiness this weekend. 

The most ironic part about the whole slot allocation process was that there was 1 roll down slot in my age group.  The girl who I thought won my age group, was actually in a different age group.  So, long story short I would have gotten to go to Kona even with 4th place.  I am happy that I get to go, 100% on me.  No roll down, no lottery, no legacyJ  Not to say that I wouldn’t have taken any of those opportunities, but I knew I had it in me to qualify based on my performance ability and my speed.  It will be a great feeling to be in the Pacific Ocean, waiting for the gun to go off, knowing that I earned my place amongst my competitors.  With that said, I am going to Kona to race my ass off…to kick it with the best in the world.  Game on!

Until then, I am still racing at the 70.3 World Championship in Vegas on September 8th.  Both of my goals for this year are achieved, so I had to make some new ones.  One of those goals is to actually RACE, not show up to both of these events.   

I’ve eaten my weight in sugar today (Monday).  I’ve eaten so much candy and chocolate that I don’t want to even look at it anymore…for a good long while.  I am well on my way to making up for my 8000 calorie deficit from yesterdayJ 

Thank you to everyone for cheering for me from all corners of the US.  I could feel your energy out there!  Here are some special shout outs, although I won’t get everyone covered:

My mom – she has never missed an ironman…the ultimate ironmon…hands downJ

My husband, Chad – as much as he probably hates it, he has been very patient this year with my training and racing.  It takes a lot of compromise to be married to a long distance triathlete.  Early morning swims, an out of control appetite, early nights and a lot of structure.  Combine his elite level of racing, and we are two very busy people.

My coach – Justin Trolle, this guy has lots of great training ideas and methodologies.  I have learned so much from him and his training has obviously worked for me.

My friends and riding buddies – Melissa, Joe, Polly, Patrick, Lynn, Andie, Tina, Brian, Kyle, Suzanne, tamara, Carla, Cyndi…you guys sure helped me get through those tough day on the bike (indoors and out)!

My good triathlon and swim friends/cheerleaders – Britta, Dave, Bentley, Noah, Kevin, Catherine, Craig, Dee Ann, Marci, Joe, Sharon, Jan, Matt E., Sean E., Lindsey L., the list goes on and on.

Scott Bond and Brad Demott for dragging my ass through that last long hard ride…that paid huge dividends, you have no idea.

Indy Aquatic Masters – Mel, George, Ben, Todd and Kris for taking extra time with me to help me work on my swimming and providing a great group training atmosphere.  One day I will make you swim proud:)

Nebo Ridge Bicycles – A great bike shop with a solid support system for me as a coach and racer.

My clients – especially Sandi, with Blue Ridge Designs, for being a sponsor.  I have an amazing support system with my clients.  I love them all so much!  They are all more than just clients, they are great friends!  Thanks for all of your kind words and messages while I have been in Coeur D Alene. 

Lisa and Pat –Thank you so much for watching my babies while I was gone and for designing my kit!  Love you guys!

My friends and family – Brittney, Dad, Erika, Susan, Willy, Lindsey…you have all been so supportive even though I know you have to think I am CRAZY.  I love you guys.
 
Event Photos (more to come!)