Thursday, July 25, 2013

What's next?

Its been 3 weeks since IMCDA and I've been a bum... sort-of.  No scheduled workouts for 2 weeks.  I did go to masters twice.  First time was ok but that second practice... big mistake.  I've swam a few more times and have been on my bike twice - all very easy.  My broken toe is feeling better, although it feels like I will have a bone spur / bump on the inside of my toe, which I am not thrilled about.  I did my first run on a treadmill yesterday and it felt fine during, a little sore after.  Tonight I'm excited because I get to run with my friends at a store's fun run.  Amazing - friends and fun and running.

We've been camping.  Got rained on every night.  Ate well (or like crap, depending on how you look at things).  We fished, Will caught a nice rainbow, I caught nothing.  But it was beautiful and we got out of the city and 100 degree temps.
This was a fresh bear track.... 100 yards from our tent.
Colorado is so ugly sometimes, you know?
We went to a beer fest and drank a lot of beer. In fact, there's been a lot of beer drinking these past few weeks.
And I've been basking in the glory of my awesome 14:03 race.
But now its time to get slightly serious and figure out the rest of my year.  And next year.  I sat down with my coach and mapped things out.  August is a bit, um, busy.
  • Aug 3 - the Color Run, just for grins.  And I managed to get Will to sign up!  Yay!
  • Aug 10 - Georgetown to Idaho Springs half marathon.  Michelle: you know this will hurt, right?  Me: yeah, but I'll do it for fun.  And I need the altitude training for Ragnar.  We can decide the week of the race if I want to scrub it.
  • Aug 18-19: Rattlesnake Oly and Sprint Back to Back.  Michelle: we'll be working on speed for this.  Me: *gulp*
  • and maybe Aug 24th, a summer biathlon (Powdr), where you run 5 loops of a 1k course and shoot a rifle in between loops.
Then Sept 6-7 is Ragnar, which is a running relay from Copper Mountain to Aspen.  You have 12 people and each person runs 3 legs.  I have legs 4, 16, and 28 (I think).  Leg 4 is nearly 10 miles on the far (non I-70) side of Dillion Reservoir and has 2 miles of uphill.  At 9,000+ feet.  This is why I need altitude training.  The other legs aren't that bad.  6 miles around Eagle (by Vail) at 6,000 ft, but I will be running around 10 PM at night (Michelle: I will have you running twice a day.  Me: gulp).  And my final run is a whopping 2 miles at 6,000 ft in Carbondale at 6:30 AM.  And I'll be trapped in a van with 5 other strangers (I joined a group of ladies from Colorado - I don't know any of them personally).  Hopefully this experience will be fun.  If anything, it serves as an excuse to get me up the the mountains under the guise of "training run".  And maybe I'll bring my fly rod and get some fishing done too.

October is blissfully race-free.  But I do have Great American Beer Festival, which is an endurance event in itself.

And then November 3 I've signed up for Oilman 70.3 in Conroe, TX.  I have friends doing the race, and well, I haven't actually raced a HIM since 2010.  I want to race one and see how much faster I am now.

For now, my training schedule is pretty casual.  Nothing long, nothing fast.  This week my coach has me swimming in the AM and doing an easy bike ride after work.  That seems like a lot!  Funny, because my total training hours for the week is only 10.  But it feels more like 15.

Oh, and I did sign up for this:
August 3, 2014
I'm not sure if that makes me awesome or an idiot.  We'll find out in 53 weeks.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Ironman Coeur d'Alene 2013 Race Report - The Run


The run was definitely the thing I was most apprehensive about, mainly because IMTX was such a suffer-fest.  Then there was my broken heel last year.  And my longest training run this year was 14.5 miles.  I honestly had no idea how the marathon would go but I was doing my best to be open about running as much as possible.  But I will admit, the run was the scariest thing for me.

As I was coming in on the bike, I was actually thinking "I love swimming and biking the Ironman distance.  Too bad I can't just do those and be done."  Technically I could, but I was wishing there was still a way to get a medal and not DNF by doing that.

When I put on my running shoes, I noticed that my left foot was a bit sore from the "swim incident" and I just kind-of laughed about it.  I put my stuff on, headed out the tent and out onto the run course.  It never ceases to amaze me just how good running feels after riding 100+ miles.  And also: just the fact that I can run any distance at all after riding that far is sheer craziness. 
Just going to go and run a little marathon.  NBD.
The Plan:
  • Goal HR is 140-145
  • Run continuous for as long as possible (stopping at the aid station for a MAX of 0.05 miles to eat/drink)
  • As running becomes more challenging, switch to run/walk intervals. I’m thinking 5 min run / 1 min walk is good. If this becomes hard, reduce run interval further. Minimum is 1 min run / 1 min walking. There will be no long stretches of walking during this Ironman.
  • Keep a 5 hour marathon goal in mind and be prepared to really, really hurt from miles 15-24 to earn it. This is a 11:30 min/mile pace.
  • Be mentally tough
  • Focus on the Chi Running practices during the run for a distraction and a form check. Switch techniques every mile to help keep mind sharp. (I wrote ~5 things on my hand as a reminder)
  • Be flexible about nutrition if what I’m doing isn’t working. If there is stomach cramping, change to coke immediately and ditch the chews.
I exited the run out chute, which was filled with cheering people, and ran through downtown CDA.  It is impossible to not be pumped at this point.  You're "nearly" done and crowds of people are cheering for you.  I was running a pretty good clip and feeling really, really good.  Like crazy good.  I could feel my left foot for a few miles, but it was still like "oh, yeah, that happened" and then after a while I forgot about it.
The run was 2 "loops", each consisting of an out and back. 

remember, this is only one "loop".  That hill sure was fun...
The run course is nearly identical to the bike course, with the exception of a few different turns through some neighborhoods.  I loved the neighborhood sections and the people who lived in them.  Their whole neighborhood was shut down so we could shuffle through it - a huge inconvenience.  They could either be crabby or throw block parties.  I'm so glad they through parties, it was awesome.  There was one L on the run route (I can't remember exactly where), but there was a guy on each entrance into the L with a microphone.  He'd yell out your name and say something funny and the yards were littered with people drinking, listening to loud music, and having a great time.  I really looked forward to those sections.
Michelle really wanted me to run continuously, for as long as I could.  I compromised and ran for 1 mile then took a mini  walk break for 0.05 mi where I'd drink and eat some chews.  I had 1 packets of Honey Stinger Chews (one regular and one caffienated) and was really trying to eat 2-3 per break. I was twisting through the neighborhoods and saw Michelle somewhere around aid station 2 (maybe?) and she ran with me for a bit.  I laughed because we were running down a hill (there was no flat ground) and she was wearing flip flops.  Just a funny mental image, my bad ass coach, running downhill next to me in flip flops.  She urged me to keep running and I told her I'd do my best.  I popped out of the neighborhood section and onto Lakeshore Drive, which is a big long gradual downhill for a bit.  I was still running.  Amazing.  They had us on the bike trail, which was slanted towards the lake a bit, which was annoying, so I tried to run on a worn dirt path next to the trail when possible.  The miles (!!) ticked on and I felt pretty good.  I was running around a 10:30 pace (and sometimes much faster) with a fairly easy HR and I was in a happy zone.
Around mile 5 you could see I-90 looming overhead and around the curve was the Big Hill.  Michelle told me to not even bother trying to run up the dumb thing and wanted me to power walk it.  Ok, I can do that!  And in all honestly, 90% of the people were walking that thing.  I got to the top, ran down the other side to the turn-around.  I remember hitting the timing mat at 6.6 miles and seeing my time and being really happy.  I even commented to a random volunteer that I could even hear my friends across the country cheering at their computers as they saw this split.  6.6 miles in, with an 11:00 pace.  Holy crap, I was actually going to do this!  I walked back up the little hill and then ran all the way down.
The way back to town was a slight uphill, which wasn't all that nice.  I think it was more hard mentally because the road just kept going on and you could see a slight uphill.  And it was a bit hot, but ice down my sleeves was doing the trick.  I was still running and feeling good.  Craziness.   
Could I look any happier?  And could this run be any prettier?
Then, finally, around mile 11 I wasn't feeling all that hot.  I was having some nutrition issues.  Either I had too much caffeine, too much sugar, or not enough sugar.  I felt a bit dizzy and buzzy and a bit pukey.  Not great, but not awful and I was still moving foward.  I tried to do a 5:1 run walk but that wasn't so great, so I went way down to a 1:1 run-walk interval.  Not great, but hey, I was running just as much as I was walking.  Still better than IMTX.  This went on through town.  I tried to put on a brave face for my fans, but they knew I wasn't quite right.  I hit special needs, and CDA does this RIGHT.  I came through and they had a guy on a speaker yelling my bib number.  I didn't even have to signal that I wanted my bag, there was a volunteer greeting me with all of my stuff laid out in her arms.  Awesome!  I ditched my caffeine chews, which I thought was the likely suspect for my issues because I had a LOT of caffeine, grabbed my non-caffeine chews and headed out.  On the way out, Michelle ran with me a bit more, quizzing me on my status.  I told her I was down to 1:1 intervals and she asked me to try and do 2:1 intervals because the fastest way through the run was to actually run.  I nodded and went back to work.

So that's what I did.  Down through the fun neighborhoods with my 2:1 intervals, taking baby sips of coke at each aid station and maybe having 1 chew every 1 or 2 miles.  I'm really proud with how I caught this issue.  Nothing goes perfect in an Ironman.  The key is being observant to those issues and troubleshooting them quickly.  I was feeling a bit rough until mile ~14 or 15 and then I was back to feeling mostly like myself again.  Legs felt good, feet felt good, HR was cooperating, stomach was decent.  Success.

Around mile 15 at the aid station entrance I saw a familiar jersey and realized it was my friend Ryan.  I poked him on the back and said "hey, I'm not supposed to find you!".  He's a strong runner and I knew he was having issues.  He had a person mis-direct him at special needs, causing him to miss it.  He was getting blisters and needed his body glide that was in his special needs bag.  And he was having a massive pity party.  We walked through the aid station and I gave him Michelle's pep talk about how you get through the marathon faster by actually running it and told him I was doing 2:1 intervals.  He was game and went with me.

This actually turned into one of my favorite parts of the race.  Ryan's my bud and he was in a tough spot.  I was happy to help him out (I think he would have walked a ton if I didn't find him).  And keeping tabs on him kept me distracted.  We helped eachother, and it was awesome.  We got to the hill and walked up it.  He whined about how fast I walked.  I laughed.  We got to the top and ran down the entire downhill to the turn around.

Then the second-best thing happened.  There was a guy with a ton of glow necklaces, handing them out to people.  I was a sad panda - I didn't want the glow necklace.  He asked what loop we were on and we said "second".  Then he said that the necklaces were for the first loopers and we wouldn't need them.  I hit the timing mat  at the turn around and did a HUGE happy dance.  NO GLOW NECKLACE FOR ME!  Seriously.  So happy.

We walked up the little hill and then ran the entire downhill section.  I had two watches on my wrist now - my Garmin for HR and pace and my digital watch for overall time.  I was trying to guess when our finish time was (we were both shooting for around 14 hrs) and at that point, it was looking like we'd finish around 14:10. 

By that point (after going down the big hill) Michelle and her friend Sonja were driving on the run course, yelling at us to run more.  "Run! Quit looking at your watch! You're smiling too much, run more!".  It was pretty comical, we were sticking with our 2:1 intervals and doing a good job running, and it never failed that they'd drive by during our walk break.  It was really annoying, but really very cool.  I saw some of their Kompetitive Edge teammates on the course and asked them if they had seen M&S.  They replied back with a "yeah, and they yelled at us".  At least they were yelling at multiple people.

With 3 miles left, I gave both of us a pep talk and tried to run more.  Which didn't really happen as it was uphill.  Ryan kept telling me I could leave him but I wasn't about to do that.  And at that point, things started to hurt and I'm not sure I could have left him.  With 2 miles left, I thought I was close to 14 hrs even and started shrinking my walk intervals and expanding my run intervals.  Not much, just 30 sec on either side.  Then we got to the 1 mile point and I really tried to run as much as possible.  I just couldn't run up the dumb hills, but for the flats, I ran.  That was the rule for that last bit: if its not up a hill, you're running.

together and running and smiling
We made the left turn to the finish and went through a parking lot.  Sherpa Jose greeted us and ran with us a bit.  I tossed him my water bottle because I didn't want it in my finish photo.  Then I guess we were running a bit too fast for him as he stopped and hung back.  We made the left hand turn onto Sherman Ave and we could see the lights of the finish. 

As far as finish lines go, I think IMTX was better.  It seemed longer, but that may be because it was narrow for a long ways.  They kept Sherman Ave the full width until the block of the finish line.  The streets were lined with people, but with the width, it didn't seem as impressive.  I dunno.

I tossed my chews onto the street (bad, I know).  I had them in my side pockets and they looked lumpy and not flattering.  I looked at my watch and saw the 14 hr mark pass and I decided to run but soak it all in.  Then Ryan and I ran to the finish together.  Really, really perfect.  Except for the part where I dropped my sunglasses in the chute and had to stop to get them.  Oops.  It was ok though, as it gave Ryan a chance to go through the finish line by himself.  I think he was expecting us to cross together, but I feel its important as a first timer to get your finish line photo by yourself.

As for how I was feeling, I'll let the photos do the work.  I really, really tried to soak it all in.  I even heard Mike Reilly call my name this time, which made me smile so so big.  Looking at the photos, I didn't realize I could smile that big. 

This photo is why I keep going back to do Ironman. 
I can't think of any other place but the finish chute
that makes me feel like this.

I saw Ryan cross and then I decided to do an imprompu jump for my finish.  I didn't practice anything and I really didn't trust my legs to be steady for a landing if I did anything crazy.  So I did a semi-lame jump that wasn't very photogenic.  But it was how I was feeling at the time, so I'll own it.
Apparently I didn't think to look up.  I guess I was more worried about landing.
Ryan was at the finish with his handler and I had mine.  I was a bit wobbly, which made me happy.  That means I pushed myself.  None of this "I'm fine" crap at the end like IMTX.  Nope, wobbles were good.

Our helpers were really nice.  They got our finisher gear for us (I tried the shirt on to ensure it fit) and they walked us to the finisher photo area and held our stuff.  Then I saw Will across the way and said "there's my person" and headed over to see him.

He looks concerned but really, we were just chatting.  I love this photo of us. 
My friends on facebook turned it into a hilarious caption contest.

See, just chilling, no biggie.

First half (13.3 miles): 2:33:34, 11:32 pace.  This by the way, would be a PR for a half marathon for a 70.3.  WOW.
Second half (12.9 miles): 2:42:20, 12:35 pace.  I have done 70.3s with run splits slower than this.  Wow again
Total run time: 5:15:54, 12:03 pace.
Age Group: 62 / 112
Overall: 1413 / 2318

Total finish time: 14:03:28, 62/112 in my age group, 1413/2318 overall.  This is the highest I have placed in a WTC race.  And I had a PR of 1:53:xx from IMTX.  WOW.  And a daylight finish.

I really can't explain how it feels to finally have an Ironman time that I'm proud of.  No excuses of "oh it was hot and I had to walk a ton".  Nope.  I had my plan and I executed it nearly perfectly.  There really is very little I would change about my day at CDA.  It was about as perfect as it could have been.

I can't wait to do another and try to go sub-14.  I know I can do it.  Boulder 2014 anyone?

Oh, and this happened:

Turns out I broke my toe after the first loop of the swim.  We were sitting on the grass talking and all of I sudden I remembered that I did something to my foot and was curious about what I did.  Good thing I was sitting on the grass, because I would have fallen out of my chair.

I really barely felt it.  I'm glad I had a high pain tolerance - can you imagine if I didn't?  I texted Michelle a photo of my toe that night and I got the highest compliment - "you're a bad ass". 

Yes, yes I am.

Ironman Coeur d'Alene 2013 Race Report - The Bike


The bike is 2 loops that are really 2 separate out and backs per "loop".  You have an out and back along the lake to the east that has a small hill (that you also get to run over.....) and the bigger out and back is a series of large rollers and climbs.  The steepest climb is ~6% and about 2.5 miles long. 

keep in mind that this is only one loop's worth of hills.  You get to do that
big hill 4 times if you count climbing both sides.
We drove the bike course 2 days prior and the steep part (which I call Cougar Gulch - and so does Strava) wasn't ridiculous and about half way up there was the tiniest of a not-as-steep section that you could use for a mini-rest and you rolled up.  It was not awful looking and was totally doable, although I had my doubts about how much fun it would be on the second loop.

  • 40 oz 1/2 strength EFS in SpeedFill (2 scoops, 200 cals)
  • 2 flasks of Liquid Shot (800 cals) (with markers for ~100 cals on the bottle)
  • 2 packs of Honey Stinger Chews in my bento box, 4 more in a bottle on the rear cage
  • 6 scoops concentrated EFS in a bottle on the back, re-fill every ~2 hrs
  • drink at a minimum of every 15 min, but really, drink everytime I thought of the word "drink"
  • :00 and :30 take a swig of LS
  • :15 and :45 eat 2-3 chews, alternating between regular and caffeine.
Per my pre-race plan:
  • Take the 1st hour / 15 miles EASY (especially the hills). Focus on getting feet under me and good cadence. 
  • Target HR is 135-140
  • Spin the hills and take them very easy (remember Elephant Rock)
  •  If windy, stay in aero as much as possible
  • Flats – stay aero as much as possible and hold 135-140 HR. Push a little bit but stay within comfort zone.
  • Turn around is at mile 35 and 90
  • Special Needs is at ~64 or 65
  • Pee at least 2x
I hopped on Merlin and headed out towards downtown which was PACKED with people.  Will, Jose, Michelle, Cristin were spread out, which was really cool.  When I saw Michelle I got a bit of a boost and told her that I killed the swim.  Honestly, having my coach up there was HUGE and so awesome.  Even the parts where she was yelling at me. 
The first part of the course is a bit odd, because you go through neighborhoods with a ton of 90-degree turns, so its hard to get into a rhythm.  Then you head out on Lakeshore Drive and finally you have a chance to eat, drink, and get your legs under you. 
Michelle wanted me to really take only 5 miles easy to get my legs under me, but in reality, it did take more like 10-15 miles.  I don't know what the deal was.  Maybe my legs were cold from the water or maybe I was excited, but my legs were sluggish and my heart rate was HIGH.   I spun EASY over the first little hill along the lake and my HR was 168.  Ugh.  And my right adductor was tweaky again.  Even with preventative KT tape.  Awesome.  I knew it was going to be a long day and I KNEW it would be ok, I just needed to be patient and wait for my body to chill out.
There were bagpipers on the front of the first hill, which was super cool.  (note, there were fewer bagpipers when I rode through the second time... not as cool)  And on the back of the hill there was a huge party with ballons and music.  This was also the ugly hill on the run course and I was looking forward to seeing this on the run (note: all of this was gone for the run. boo).  I went up and over the hill, saw special needs.  It was set up really nice.  A nice wide turn and your stuff (and volunteers to fetch your stuff) was all laid out.  However, I was at mile 7 and had no need for this stuff.  Still, it was cool to see so I knew what to expect later.  I went up and over the hill again (still feeling weird) and was on the flat part heading back into town where I heard a "hey, I know you!".  It was my buddy Ryan.  He must have had a good swim and flew past me on the bike.  I only saw him much later on at the Hwy 95 turn-around on the 2nd loop.  Also, it was a bit breezy here by the lake, and I wasn't sure what to make of that, since it was 8 AM and CDA has a reputation for being windy.
I came back into town and my people had all shifted around, sneaky.  It kept me on my toes because I kept looking for them.  
That yellow awning in the background was called Zips and they were advertising
huckleberry milkshakes.  That was supposed to be my post-race treat, but they were closed. 
*sad face*
We headed out of town and over to Hwy 95, where the real work began. 
Pro Tip:  I did a super smart thing, or at least it really helped me mentally.  I spent some time on Strava looking at somebody's 2012 CDA file and wrote down the mile marker for each hill and how long the hill was.  I then wrote this info down onto a ~2x3 sheet of paper and taped it to my gel flask (I had copies on both of them).  The flask was on my stem, so anytime I had a question about how far the next hill was, it was really easy for me to pull the flask out of the holder and take a look.  Mentally, this was huge, as I knew when to expect hills and it also helped me time my nutrition a bit so I didn't have a big block of calories right before the huge hill.

The first big hill (Cougar Gulch) was at ~mile 18.5.  My legs were better but my HR was still a bit too high, around 145 bpm.  I took the hill super easy, putting it in my easiest gear and spun up the hill.  I don't think I passed anyone, but I do remember people mashing up all of the hills, trying to be heroes.  I just shook my head as I knew they'd be hurting on the second loop.  HR was a bit better, with a max of 165 at the top of the hill.  Not great, but not ridiculous. 
On Lakeshore.  This was also the view for the run
After that, I pretty much just pedaled, ate, and drank.  It wasn't the most scenic ride I've done, since it was on the highway.  But it wasn't bad, either.  Probably a 7 in terms of scenery out of 10.  The next hill challenge was Mica Grade (again, name according to Strava) and this wasn't bad at all.  Just long, I think it was ~3 miles to the top, but it wasn't nearly as steep as the previous hill.  Then once you're at the top, you only have some small rollers to the turn around. 

The road surface was a bit chip-sealy and there was a point after the second big climb where I was wondering if I had a flat or or something weird.  Riding just felt *hard*.  My HR was still >145.  My right leg was tweaky and I had to pee.  And it was only mile 30 of a 112 ride.  Somehow, I managed to keep the bad thoughts out of my head and just focus on riding, eating, and drinking.  I knew I was trained for this and that things would come around, I just had to be patient. 

I stopped at the aid station around mile ~31 (about 2 hrs in) and decided to re-fill my Speedfill and to stretch my leg.  I also had to pee, but there was a line ~5 people deep at EVERY aid station.  I didn't want to wait, so I re-filled and stretched at the same time.  It was at that point that I realized my Garmin was still on auto-pause, which was not awesome, because that meant I would have no idea what my true bike split was.  I still had my digital watch, but I really don't know exactly when I started riding.  I thought it was around 1:22, but I wasn't exactly sure.  And this also meant I really didn't know how long this quick water/stretch break was.  Bummer.  I was also a bit of an idiot and only added in 1 scoop's worth of concentrated drink mix. I had 6 scoops mixed up (2 for every re-fill) and I marked each scoop "line" with a maker, but with my fuzzy brain, I only added one line's worth of EFS.  I didn't realize this until my next refill, but that sure explains why my drink mix was so light in flavor.....

The way back north on 95 was better.  My leg was feeling good(ish), so it was a good thing I stretched.  I always hate having to stop and stretch, but I'm better off when I do.  When I don't, I end up losing power, which in the end, makes me slower than if I had just gotten off and stretched my damn leg.  My HR had also decided to cooperate and was in the upper 130's now.  The way back on 95 is generally easier than the way out, since the only big climb was the backside of the big hill, and it wasn't nearly as steep as the frontside.  And my HR was definitely doing better - it topped out at 161 and went down to 158 at the top.  Finally, after 3 hours of riding my body felt like cooperating. 

The ride back through town was really fun because of all the crowds.  I think I may have heard my best friend and her kids (my "nephews") but I didn't see them.  I saw my pockets of fans, in different spots than before.  And then I headed through the twisty neighborhood and out onto Lakeshore.  At this point, it was 3:45 into the bike ride and I really needed to pee.  The run course uses the bike trail along Lakeshore and I saw port-o-potties set up at the run aid station.  The best part - no line!  I parked my bike and hit the port-o-pottie, keeping a watchfull eye on my digital watch for the time.  I then used the stop to take 2 more packs of chews out of my rear bottle and into my bento box since I was nearly out of chews and to swap out my Liquid Shot flasks.  And then I was on my way.

My HR was 10 bpm lower going over the little hill, thank goodness, and life was pretty good.  It was feeling a bit more blustery but I couldn't tell if it is just windy next to the lake or if conditions were getting more windy.  And then I decided I would just worry about things I could control. 

After the turn-around I was out of water, so I stopped at the next aid station (mile ~64) to refill my Speedfill.  For whatever reason, I couldn't manage to do everything on the fly while riding.  I think the cap of my EFS concentrate bottle kept closing as I tried squeezing it into the Speedfill and I think the caps of the water bottles were doing the same thing.  So it was just easier to stop and fix everything than risk a crash.  This is when I realized I under fueled on the EFS on the previous refill.  I thought about adding 3 scoops' worth to compensate but I decided to just stay on plan with 2 and not risk distress.  Besides, it was only 100 calories over 2 hrs that I was down and I'm pretty sure I made those calories up with extra Liquid Shot and chews.
Then it was back into town, where I saw my fan club again, in different spots.  I did catch Will (he was taking a movie with his phone) and he asked if I was ok.  I replied back yes and probably something else and headed back out of town to 95. 

Next up was Cougar Gulch for the second (or third, depending on how you view the loops) and I was curious to see how this would be.  The second loop is always the hardest and I was hopefull that all of my Fridays climbing Deer Creek and Highgrade would pay off.  And it did.  I passed 14 people up that hill, and with each one, I made a little mental notch on my bike.  I tried to joke with some people as I passed them, or if I recognized their kit, ask them how their training compared to the course.  Most, not suprisingly, were not prepared for long climbs.  There was also a guy wearing a CU Buff jersey that I kept passing up all the hills (and he'd pass me going down).  By this point, I was comfortable enough to joke around with him when I passed him ("so we meet again!")  I was suprised that he was having issues since he was wearing a Boulder-based cycling jersey and he admitted that he had only been on his bike 4 times for training.  Um, have fun buddy.  I also saw a guy later on with platform pedals and shoe cages.  Why would you do that to yourself?

The remainder of the ride was pretty much a blur.  Mostly because I'd seen it once before and thing all kinda looked the same.  I was on schedule for eating and drinking and things were feeling good.  My HR was definitely happier as it maxed out at 144 going up Mica Grade and things were fine.  It was a bit windy, which was sucky, and it felt like I had winds coming and going.  There was an aid station at 5:50  into the ride so I took a quick stop to refill my Speedfill.  Then more riding, eating, and drinking.  Then I stopped at an aid station (at 104? miles) an hour later for another pee break.  No lines (it was 7 hrs into the ride) but also hardly any volunteers.  I could have used a top-off on water or an extra hand with my bike, but there was hardly anyone there. Lame. I grabbed one more pack of chews from the back bottle for the last 8 miles.  Good sign I needed another pack, that meant I was eating well.  I did debate about peeing on the bike, but I also knew that I needed another pack of chews, which was in the line of fire.  I just couldn't deal with pee on my nutrition so I stopped.
Coming down the front of Cougar Gulch was fun both times - I hit 40 mph each time.  The second time was even better because there was hardly anyone out there.  I love to bomb down hills and on the first loop several people were just coasting.  That meant I was going 35+ mph on a 1-car width shoulder yelling "LEFT LEFT LEFT" at people as I passed them.  The second loop was much sparser, and therefore, involved much less yelling.  Those last 8 miles were FAST too. 

I came back into town, where I was pretty sure I heard "E" as I came off the highway ramp.  I was pushing a bit, hoping to beat my IMTX bike time of 7:19.  With my Garmin auto-pause issues and not knowing when I started the bike exactly, I estimated that I needed to see 8:40 on my digital watch.  That time came and went and I knew it wasn't a PR.  I was a bit bummed because I knew my fitness was better, but I also knew it was a much harder bike course.  Consulation was that I also knew I rode smart and to the best of my ability.
It was a few quick turns and into the bike finish.  The finish route was sketchy and I was actually glad I was on the slow end because they took you on a narrow blacktop path that had some pretty decent turns into the bike in.  If it was crowded with tired people, it could have been ugly.

I thanked Merlin for an awesome ride and I thanked Michelle for making me ride up Deer Creek every 2 weeks, because the CDA ride wasn't bad at all!  I was greeted by a happy volunteer.  He asked if I had everything I needed from my bike.  I grabbed my Garmin and made my way to the change tent.

I had a really nice volunteer for the T2 tent.  She dumped out all of my stuff and started offering it to me.  "Hat or visor?"  I opted for the visor since it wasn't going to rain.  I took off my cycling shoes, changed from my heavier tri shorts (Oomphs) to my Altitude Multisport tri shorts (which matched my top).  I put on my socks and running shoes and remarked "oh hey, my foot hurts.  I remember doing something to it 8 hrs ago on the swim.... weird".  Then I grabbed 2 packs of chews and my hand-held water bottle and headed out to start the run.

56.2 mi split: 3:36:20, 15.59 mph
112 mi split: 3:46:28, 14.78 mph (ouch)
Total: 7:22:48, 15.18 mph
AG: 62 / 112
Overall: 1605 / 2318

T2: 4:30

Ironman Coeur d'Alene 2013 Race Report: The Swim


As part of the swim-smart initiative, they grouped us in corrals, in groups from sub-60, 1:00-1:15, 1:15-1:30 etc.  I was shooting for somewhere sub-1:15 so I put myself in the 1:00-1:15 group and then put myself somewhere in the center of that pack.  I have no idea if this was a smart idea, but it's what I did.
I was only able to find myself in this picture because I was standing next to
my friend Dimity.  And Dimity is crazy-tall. Just trust me, we're both in there.
They were anticipating that 100 swimmers per minute would enter the water.  And we'd have 17 hrs from the time we stepped over the timing mat to complete the 140.6 miles.  The problem with this (as opposed to traditional mass starts) is that you have NO IDEA when your 17 hrs starts.  I know the first swimmers started at 6:35 AM, but I don't know exactly when my 17 hrs starts.  My work-around was that I would wear my timex digital watch the entire race (so I'd have my Garmin 910 AND my timex for the run - fun!) and I'd hit start on the timer when I crossed over the mat.  *Fingers crossed that no one hit a button on the watch during the swim*

Compared to the IMTX mass start in 2011, this was very anti-climatic.  The cannon went off and people started moving forward, like cattle.  I think I crossed the timing mat somewhere around 6:37(?), I hit my watch and then went into the water, which was a balmy (for CDA) 62 degrees.

The good thing (and I was doubtful this swim start would have anything good about it) was that everyone in my vicinity was roughly the same swim speed.  There wasn't much wrestling.  Sure, a few people (*cough* men *cough*) were assholes and just HAD to swim on top of me or through me or whatever.  But for the most part, it was pretty smooth.  I just focused on keeping my head down and finding feet.  swim, feet, swim, feet, swim.  Do not look up, just swim. 

At the athlete meeting, they said that the yellow and orange buoys were numbered 1 through 9.  Not so much for us as for rescue operations ("rescue at yellow buoy 8").  I thought I would manage to look at the buoys and see the numbers, to tell where I was, but I didn't really manage to do that.  Instead I just kept looking for feet and swimming.

swim start, ala "swim safe initiative"
I've heard horror stories about the turn buoys, how the water gets really choppy (I guess its a windy point with some waves) and how it is just a mass of people.  Maybe I've just swam in worse stuff, but I didn't have any issues and the turn was pretty clean.  I even took the turn pretty narrow and close to the buoys. 

On the way back, I found some feet and just kept looking down and swimming.  Then I realized I was inside the orange buoys.  Oops.  Well, I decided to keep my feet and hang just inside them.  Besides, the water was cleaner here with less people.  And I had good feet! 

We were nearing the shore and things were getting more crowded, but still ok.  My hand hit sand and I stood up, got out of the water, and ran over the timing mat.  I glanced at my watch.  Loop #1 (1.2 miles) was ~35 minutes.  A potental PR.  Sweet!  And on target for a fast swim.

People were taking their sweet time on the beach, rounding the curve and getting back in the water.  I decided to jog (it was a race) and my left foot decided to smack right into some guy's heel.  Or that's what I'm assuming happened.

I got back into the water, knee-deep and I dolphin dove in and went to work finding feet again.  I had a bit of a harder time finding good feet this time around.  They kept disappearing on me (too fast) or people would cut me off and I'd loose the feet.  And my left foot was a bit sore.  I remember thinking "hmm, I think I did something back there on the beach... good thing this water is cold....  oh hey, my foot is numb, sweet!". 

The sun also decided to come out (it was foggy and cloudy at the start), so I had to be selective with what side I breathed on so I didn't get too blinded.  Again, the second loop was no big deal.  I found feet, I lost feet, I sped up to try and keep feet, and I just swam.  I don't think my effort was high - I was on cruise - but I did play with speed a bit out of boredom or to keep my feet.  The turn was again a breeze for me, and then it was time to head home.  
not very crowded at all at the start
The last leg back was a bit more congested.  I kept to the inside of the orange buoys again.  I figured it worked well the first time, why not do it again.  The bad part about this plan is that I was pretty much by myself, so I had no feet.  I eventually worked my way back outside the buoys and near people.  It wasn't until the end of that last stretch that I got any sort of true abuse that resembled an Ironman swim.

I could hear announcers and music, I could see the big red Swim Exit arch and I just focused on heading that way.  Pretty soon, my hand hit sand, and I was on my feet.  I looked at my watch and saw 1:13.  Holy wow, I just cut 7 min off my Ironman swim time.  And I was really close to my "awesome" time goal of 1:12.  This whole thing of finding feet and swimming must really work for me, I swim much faster when I do that.

Then it was a quick run up the beach, where I saw my friend Cristin and crew, where I think I suprised them with my speed.  I yelled I was happy with my time as I passed her.  Funny sidenote, Will and Jose (my sherpas) were really confused over my fast swim time and were trying hard to figure out how I did that.  I'm not sure to be upset in their lack of faith in my swimming or happy that I gave them something to ponder.

After the beach, I grabbed my blue bike bag from the long rows of transitions and trotted to the change tent (again, people were walking.  ugh).  I was lucky and I got a whole human to myself in the change tent.  She emptied my bag and offered me my options.  Sort of like a buffet, but with my stuff.  I opted to wear only my Cool Wings (which SUCK to put on when you're wet).  And I wanted sunscreen on my face.  My human was so awesome, she dried my face with a towel before I applied the sunscreen, to ensure that the sunscreen would stick.  How awesome is that?  Then I was ready to go.  She had me leave my stuff for her to pack and stow away.  I love the change tent volunteers.  So. Much.

Then it was time to find Merlin and go on a little 112 hilly ride.


1.2 mi - 35:41, 1:50/100 m pace
2.4 mi - 37:53, 1:57/100 m pace

Swim overall time - 1:13:34, 1:54/100 m pace
AG: 25 / 112 (SWEET)
OA: 1605 / 2318
T1: 6:42