Tuesday, July 19, 2011
Ironman Couer d'Alene
I realized today that it will be exactly one month since competing in IMCDA 2011. I figured that I better get going on the race report that I promised.
I didn't really know what to expect at IMCDA since my training had been pretty minimal since the beginning of May. I was spending approximately 90 hours per week between clinic and work hoping that I would complete all my school stuff, so that I could just relax and think about racing. But due to my professor's disorganization and inability to put out a syllabus with the actual course requirements, I spent most of my free time working on school stuff-Thank you MNSU for hiring such a crappy professor!
I arrived on Wednesday to Couer d'Alene and the weather was perfect! Sunny and 90 degrees, which was a complete change from the crappy weather we had been having in MN! Couer d'Alene is a great little town and the culture of the town is relaxation! Think of "island time" on the mainland. The town bordered a huge lake and was surrounded by mountains-I couldn't have asked for a more beautiful race venue! When we got into town, I quickly went over to check into the house that I rented for the week, which was located approximately 10 blocks from the race site. But to much surprise, the girls who lived in the house were not expecting me to move in until Thursday-the owner of the house gave them the wrong dates! The girls were nice enough to gather their things up and brought in the cleaning people. I ended up only having to wait a couple of hours to get into the house, which gave me the chance to have lunch with a couple of my friends and drive the bike course. The owner felt so bad that she ended up leaving us a gift card to a local grocery store, which was really nice! The house I rented was a cute little 3 bedroom 2 bath rambler that I shared with my friend and fellow racer Matt and my sherpas Cindy and Erica.
Thursday morning Erica arrived and I ended up heading up to Spokane to pick her and get her bike rented for the week then headed back to CDA to get all checked into Ironman. Every Ironman race venue differs and this one was primarily outdoors along lake. The check in process was really simple compared to the other ironman events that I have race in-you entered one tent, made two stops within the tent and you were done. There wasn't even a weight in! After check in I went over to pick up my bike from tri-bike transport. After standing in a pretty long line, I finally made it to the table to get the information on my bike placement within the lot. I walked over to where the man had said it was and I couldn't find it! I continued to wander around looking for my bike and finally a worker came over to help. We both continued to wander around the lot and couldn't find it-panic was now starting to set in! After walking around the lot for approximately 45 minutes, the worker found my bike! Whew! On my way out of the lot they had a station where you could pump your tires and as I was trying to my tires I kept hearing ssshhhhhsshhh-the air was not going into the tires. I thought it maybe was the pump, so I went over the bike mechanic station to try it there and all I was getting was the same sssshhhhhssshhhh. Erik's (God Love them) didn't put teflon tape between the valve and the valve extenders causing them to leak. I ended up dropping the bike off at the mechanics for the to fix the wheels while I went to grab lunch. After lunch I picked up my bike and headed back to the house. Once back at the house, I went to take the bike out of the car and noticed that the front wheel was flat! The tube had popped! So I may my way back down to the mechanics and had the tire changed again. Once I got all the bike stuff straightened out Erica, Matt and I went out for a short bike ride to spin our legs out a bit then spent the rest of the night bumming around downtown.
Friday morning Erica and I got up early to head down to the swim venue for an open water swim. I had heard from past participants that the water was really chilly in Couer d'Alene, but I was not prepared for how cold it actually was! Erica, Dr. Dave, and I hopped in the water and it literally took my breath away! At that moment, I wondered how I was going to do the swim on race day! First of all my training was crap (I hadn't swam for 3 weeks prior to the race) and second the water was soooooo cold! On top of it being so cold, the water was so rough that it felt like you were swimming the ocean. White caps! We maybe got a half mile swim in that day before we called it quits and headed back to Spokane to pick Cindy up from the airport.
We got back to CDA mid afternoon and I spent the rest of the day in the coffee shop working on homework, while Erica and Cindy ran around downtown. That evening I met up with my P2 buddies, Altanta Tri friends, Madison friends, and Cindy for the athlete. I love going to the athlete dinner! They get you all pumped up for the race events and recognize peoples accomplishments throughout their training.
Saturday morning, again we had an early start and made our way down for another swim in the frigid lake. This time it was to come up with a game plan on how I was going to tackle the cold water. I found that if got in the water, sat in there until my body became acclimated to the water temp and got out, then got back in it didn't feel so bad nor did it take away my breath. My game for race day was to sit in the cold water for 10-15 minutes prior to the swim and then get out right before we started.
Following the swim, I gathered up my race gear and checked it in. We then spent the rest of the day bumming around town before heading back house. I spent the rest of the day just resting, while Cindy and Erica went biking. That evening we made dinner at the house then made our way down to the race site to take a peak at all the Ironman stuff set up. We ended up running into the race director and talked with him for quite a while.
The morning started early-3:45 am early! I quickly got ready and ate breakfast before Matt and I headed down to the race site. Once I got there, I started off by getting body marked, then made my way to check out my bike and pump my tires. Then, I dropped off my special needs bags, and last hung out the gang until we had to head down to the race start.
IMCDA is a beach start which is different than my previous ironman races. Once the beach opened up to the athletes, I quickly made my way down to the water. I sat in the water until I got acclimated to the water temp and then got out. As I stood on the beach I looked out at the swim course and came up with my plan on how I was going to tackle the entry and the swim. The course was a two loop swim, with us having to exit the water after the first loop, run over a mat and then enter the water again.
Finally after standing the beach for what felt forever, the gun went off. The mass of 2600 athletes ran into the water at the same time. I got hit, kicked, punched, and dunked! The cold of the water again did shock my system, but once I pee'd in my wetsuit the water became somewhat tolerable. This ironman swim was the hardest, most violent swim I have ever done in a triathlon event. I don't know if it was the beach start or people panicing from the cold, but people were crazy! A one point during the swim a man picked me up by the crotch and threw me!
Once I finished the swim, I made my way to the transition zone and changing tent. I went into the race with the plan to change after the swim, just so I wouldn't be sitting in a wet trisuit on the bike. I was so cold that my feet didn't have any feeling and my hands didn't work making it really hard to change my clothes, but with some help, I finally got into a dry tri outfit!
After a really long transition, I finally got on the bike. Still frozen from the swim, I just focused on getting my legs going to try to warm up a bit. Once my legs got in the pedalling groove and I was about 4 or so miles into the ride a motorcycle pulled up next to me and the official flashed a yellow card. I was thinking crap did I just get a penalty. But actually the guy next to me got a penalty for drafting off of me. The bike course was shaped like a eight with the first loop slighlty shorter than the second loop and then is repeated for a second complete 8. After finishing the smaller part of the first 8 and barely making it into the bigger part of the 8, the screw loosened up on my speedfil causing it to fall off the frame of the bike. I ended up having to stop and re-tighten the screw. Then maybe a mile further I felt something rubbing on my back tire and had to stop and fix that, then again my speedfil fell off the frame-uuugggghhh! And if that wasn't enough, I got a flat at mile 30! Being that I fixed a ton of flats in my riding days,I can usually fix them pretty fast, except that the tires on the Zip 404's that I borrowed were so stretched out that they wouldn't stay in the carbon clincher. The flat took me about 25 minutes to change. Not knowing where I was time wise, I pushed the remainder of the bike a bit. I do have to say that even though I had experienced the mechanical issues on the bike, I felt pretty calm and in the end was only 18 minutes off my PR on a 112 mile bike course!
Going into this race, I actually was pretty worried about the run-not because I didn't think that I wouldn't finish the 26.2 miles but because my run training SUCKED over the month preceding the event. I knew that I hadn't put in the running miles that would get me through the marathon feeling strong. After I dismounted the bike, I knew that my fear about the run was true! I could barely get my legs going. I have in all my ironman races gone into the run with the plan of running 5 and walking 1 minute and then walking the waterstops. This plan has kept me consistent and in most of the races, I have to say I feel that it has given me an advantage over those who go hammer through the beginning of the run and end up walking the entire second half. My run times (although are never very fast) are acceptable! Now back to my CDA run, I struggled to get my legs moving and my body was saying just walk. I had a hard time maintaining my planned 5 and 1's! In the past when I have experienced this feeling of being so low and energy stricken, I know the only thing that is going to help at that point is to start forcing in some calories-knowing that it is not going to be an immediate fix it is necessary to be able to maintain forward motion over the remaining several hours of running. Once the calorie kicked in my running increased and my legs moved at a little more ease. Like the bike course, the run course left transition and followed along the lake which was absolutely beautiful. In order to get through this tough course, I kept my attention on the beauty of the lake, watching for my teammates who were also racing, the crowd support! At about mile 17 or so, I started running with a man named Mo and ended up running with him for about 5 miles. Mo lived in CDA and his wife is a nurse practitioner, so we had lots to talk about, which made the time go by a little bit faster.
I ended up finishing with a time of 13:14-which actually kind of surprised me! I figured that I was going to finishing well over 14 hours with the mechanical issues on the bike and my terrible run. Overall this was a great race! The town of CDA was awesome! After completing in Madison over the past couple of years, I was a bit skeptical about community support for this Ironman event and I have to admit it was extremely well organized and the city of CDA was absolutely awesome!