This past Sunday I got to race an Ironman! It felt like I had been training for forever for this race. I had put in a good chunk of training for St. George during the winter 2019/early spring 2020 only to have the pandemic put everything on pause. I still kept up with training and since it looked like Muncie 70.3 was going to happen, I last minute decided to sign up, but then a week or so before, it got cancelled. I was pretty sure IMWI wasn’t going to happen, but kept my training up just in case. Then by mid summer some smaller (mostly trail and ultra) running races were happening so I jumped on the ultra wagon. I really wanted to race again, and I’ve also had the itch to run an ultra, however triathlon training usually took a front seat, so I was excited that it worked out to have the chance to race one. IMWI was officially cancelled in August (I think around then), so I turned my focus over to running and took the 50 mile training seriously. I ran a 50k in September as a training run and then raced the 50 miler at the end of October. I took a little time off and then got back to business mid November to build up my triathlon base again since I had been mostly focusing on running for the past few months. This past spring rolled around and IM training was in full swing. So even though my training block for CdA was only six or so months it feels so much longer than that with all of the training before my ultra debut.
I felt pretty prepared for this race. My swimming has improved, mostly small gains but I was feeling stronger in the water. Plus I swam at least 2k yards every day almost the entire month of February- except when the gym was closed due to a snowstorm, so that has to count for something, right? My bike was just ok, it was as good as it was going to get with the limited weekends where weather cooperated to get in bigger rides, and on those rides I tried to get in hills! I felt like my run was strong between successful speed work sessions and knowing I had some endurance (and mental strength) from the 50 miler. So I felt with all of these improvements on the swim and run, I thought I was sure to make my goal of 12 hours or at least come close.
Except the weather forecast on race day had other plans. To my horror when I checked it the week before it was predicted to be in the mid 90’s, but as the days passed it kept going up, all the way up to 100. Not again. Chattanooga which had a heat index of 100+ was such a sufferfest, I knew at those temps goals would be out the window and it would be more about being smart and finishing safely. However the race director had moved up the start time to 5:30a so the worst part of the day would be on the run. Not ideal but glad we were getting some extra ‘cooler’ hours to race. So I still had some hope that my goals weren’t totally toast.
We arrived Thursday morning and it already felt warm… and it was only in the 80’s! We couldn’t check in to our AirBnB until 4p so we got lunch, then went to the Ironman village where I did athlete check-in, and then waited in line at Tribike Transport to get my bike and gear bag. Once we were able to get into our AirBnB I made a grocery store run and we got settled in. I love eating out while on vacation but I was kind of excited to make our own meals to avoid stressing about pre race food, especially since I was trying to eat a pretty bland, no veggies diet Friday and Saturday. I usually have something green with lunch and dinner even the day before the race, but having GI issues during three of the four IM’s I’ve done, I decided it was time to cut the green out and see if that helped.
Friday morning I went for a short spin and rode part of the run course, which was mostly flat and mostly shaded, hooray. Then I spent the next couple of hours prepping gear and trying to swap water bottle holders- in transit my right rear one got smushed, so I was swapping with the left but the screw in the right one wouldn’t go back in all of the way, but when I tried to take it out, it was stuck. Ugh. So I finally electric-taped the heck out of it and hoped it stayed on. After spending way too much time on the bottle holders, JMR and I ventured out to try a smoothie at The Wellness bar and walked around for a little bit before heading back to the house to rest the legs and make dinner.
Saturday was even less eventful, I met with up with a few team Zooters before heading to drop my bike off at 11. Bike drop off was very quick since we only were dropping off our bikes and we would lay our bike/run gear out old school style race day morning. I did walk through swim in/bike out/bike in/run out so I knew where to go and where my rack was. Then I headed back to the house to rest up the legs and go to bed early for a 2:45a wake up.
I slept ok, not great and was up ready to go at 2:45. I did my usual pre race morning routine: oatmeal/banana/peanut butter, bathroom, sunscreen and then we were headed to transition at 3:45a. It was about a 20 min walk to transition and then I took my time to set up my gear and also find a pump. Usually IM has them along the walls of transition but none were to be found, but I did find a generous athlete on my rack that brought her own and was letting other racers use it. Phew! Once I was all setup I headed to the swim start to line up in my 1:11-1:20 corral. I waited for what felt like forever since it was slow going due to COVID protocols, and finally it was my corrals turn to enter the beach. We were allowed to do a quick swim warm up so I quickly got in the water and dunked my face a few times to get used to the cold water and then headed to line up. 6:03 I was in the water and the race had finally began!
Ironman Coeur d’Alene – The Race