Its come and gone, Ironman number 9 is in the books. Its been the first since 2012 and honestly didn't know if I would ever get back into it, but eventually I was able to break through, drop 40+ pounds, get back to training, and complete Ironman Coeur D'alene in a combined 15 weeks time. Not a lot of time, considering I was stagnant for over 2 years, but luckily some things came back to me. Like swimming and some things will take more time to get there, like running. But that's ok, at least I'm back and healthy and overall doing well in my training leading up to this.
So now for the race. Brutal. (from memory and spit balling a bit) 1700 out of just under 2100 started, and 1300 finished in the 105, some say 108 degree heat of the day and pavement was measured at 122 degrees. It was record highs in the area for sure what a race to come back to, so I had my work cut out. I felt pretty confident in my swim, and was confident on my bike. Run I was so-so nursing a nagging foot the weeks leading up to the race. My goal was to get off the bike in good shape and just survive the run. That was my plan in normal weather, and didn't really change considering the record highs, except for maybe take it easier on the bike to make sure I'm not overheated when I start the run.
Swim: The swim was a rolling start and I seeded myself near the 1:10 mark. A few guys around me mentioned they were looking to swim 1:10 so I figured I was in the right place. During the first loop I just wanted to establish a rhythm and not get worn out in the beginning. That has been an issue for me in the past. But on this day I felt good going out and got my cadence going, which ended up being around 64 strokes/minute which is what I was aiming for. I sighted well the first loop and had only once incident where someone hit my goggles and that let in a little water. I tried to ignore it for the most part and finished loop one in just over 34 minutes. Second loop is always longer here, probably because of the angle you start out at. But during the start of the second loop that water that got in started to play havoc with my contacts, I thought they were coming out! That had me worried as if I had lost a contact I had no backups, not sure how I could proceed. So I stopped a few times and just tried to blink my contacts back into my eye socket. After a bit it seemed to work and I kept going. I started a mantra "Breathe, relax" after each stroke and breath, and just focused on that and popped out in just over 36 minutes on the next loop for 1:10:22 swim, my second fastest IM swim yet.
Bike: Starting the bike it was still relatively cool out, probably low or mid 70s I'm guessing, so my goal here was just to ride by feel, and if it ever felt like I was going too hard, then ease up. I took shot of BASE Performance salt every 5 miles, 1 Watermelon GU every 45 minutes, and Gatorade and water throughout. Two bottle cages on the bike, one for water one for Gatorade. The bike is fairly challenging, which includes a 2 mile climb and some other significant ones where you just sit back in a climbing gear and work your way up, then turn around and eventually fly back down. By the time the second loop came the sun was out in full force, probably near 100 degrees starting that 2 mile climb. I would pour the remaining water on my head and back coming into each aid station (luckily I wore a normal helmet), and that seemed to work well. Really just tried to stay patient and mostly it was an uneventful ride until mile 110 where I developed a huge cramp on my inner right thigh and could no longer pedal. I tried pedaling, but each time my leg came up I let out a scream! I was again worried my race was over, how can I get through this and run? I took some more salt, and eventually it just went a way, lucky! It never came back the rest of the race, it was weird how that happened, but its over and forgotten about. I finished the bike in 5:54, not too shabby.
Run: I attained my goal, I felt real good after the bike, despite the oven like temperatures which were in full effect when I started the run. The folks in the changing tent were great, they gave me a cold towel and dipped my running hat into ice water and that felt great. So now the only thing left to do was to run. I saw my family on the way out and high fived everyone and started out nice and strong around 9 minute miles. I did end up walking aid stations starting at #1. I figured I needed to be smart and just think survival, not pace. After mile 4 though the wheels started to come off. There is barely any shade on this course so you are getting the full force of the sun. My walks in the aid stations got slower but I continued to run in between them and finished the first loop in a good time of 2:12. And for a moment I felt like I could even split as I felt great making the turn seeing my family again and took off out of town. By the time I hit mile 14 however it got bad. It started with some real bad headaches and I had to stop a few times, again thinking how I'm going to get through this. I could no longer tolerate Gatorade, so stuck to coke and water. The headaches continued, and then I come to realize that it was really the ice in my hat, which I took every station, that was giving me this numbing headache. I stopped the ice in the hat, and just threw water over my head and eventually the headaches went away. So maybe ice in the hat for me is a bit much, I'll stick to just dumping it on my head and down my shirt. The run got tougher and I started to take walks between aid stations, but for the last few miles I toughed up and started running better again and just stopped at the aid stations. The folks on the course were awesome, people came out and sprayed us with their hoses and put out sprinklers the entire time I was out there. Just people from the town, not volunteers. Best community support I've seen at a race, this being my 3rd CDA. I made that final turn and could see the finish line from what seemed like a mile out, it was exciting! I dreamed about seeing this finish since I last did it in 2010, and here I was! I finished the marathon in a time of 4:45, which ended up being 10:43 pace, which was better than I thought considering all the walking I did. A total time of 12:01, and honestly I was never looking at the clock or all or trying to beat a time, I just wanted to finish.
It was a bit of a mystery coming into this, I haven't done one in so long, and I haven't been training all that long, basically since early March, so you never know. I did a tough half in Knoxville in May and that gave me some confidence, and my training was been spot on. I've never been more consistent honestly. So that taught me just to trust your training, be consistent, hit the long rides no matter what, even if you have to do them indoors, and the race is more or less in the bag as long as you don't get crazy out there.
So now I'll start getting ready for my main race IMWI in Septmeber. I got some time to get a little better and now I'm a bit wiser in the heat, and know I can handle it. So it should be an interesting race, though probably a cool race but you never know. I think the IM run is a lot of mental toughness, something I haven't gotten back, but can work on to keep going, and probably a better nutrition plan which I'll have some time to work on. Thanks for reading!
Next race in 3 weeks, Ironman Racine 70.3! I'm putting one down there!