Monday, June 26, 2017

Ironman Coeur D'Alene 70.3 Race Report

This was the 2nd running of the 70.3 distance on this course and last year I had so much fun cheering on participants that I decided to sign up for 2017.  I also signed up for Ironman Canada at Whistler so it seemed like a great warm up race for that.   Since I had done IM CDA full 3 times in the past I was optimistic that a half here would be a breeze.  I underestimated the challenge that is long course triathlon.

"I only have to do one loop" is what I kept telling myself leading up to the race.  Yes I know it's a two loop run.  No I didn't dwell on that enough.  Looking out at the swim buoys my confidence was high the night before.  Just one nice straight loop.  My bike was checked in after some super stressful mechanical difficulties and I knew it would make it up those climbs for at least one loop.

Race morning dawned a little chilly (as it usually is at 4 am).  I dressed in my Fleet Feet tri kit, pulled my Team Blaze long sleeve and a pair of pants over it, mixed my nutrition bottles and breakfast drink and headed to transition.  The day before when I checked in my bike I had traced all the paths that I would travel from my spot on the Team Blaze rack.  I was lucky enough the be close to the fence, close-ish to the run exit and close to the bike exit (that meant minimal running with my bike in cleats).

Transition set up went smoothly.  I got to see and hug lots of friends and team mates. My friend Kym took a few minutes out of her race morning routine to braid my hair. Everyone followed the racking instructions and even in close quarters there was room to set up gear next front wheels. I ate my Ucan bar and finished my drink before pumping my tires, gathering my wetsuit, goggles and earplugs and packing up my morning clothes and pump to hand off to my awesome sherpa Ken.

No long line for the bathroom, made it for the team picture, heard the national anthem and still had time to get to the beach and warm up a bit. Pre-race things went really well.

Rolling swim starts are nice.  Nicer than mass starts. Doesn't mean people won't grab your feet, elbow you or push you under but it's a lot less likely than in a mass start. None of those things happened to me and other than getting  off course coming back in (I have a hard time sighting the beach) my swim seemed pretty strong and I pushed the right watch buttons going into transition 1.

We had wetsuit peelers this year and my friend Jonathan was open when I ran up. Yes! Jonathan is 6'5" and the strongest person I know. These are very good qualities in a peeler. And it's nice to see a familiar friendly face when you are disoriented after a long swim.  I got my watch back on, grabbed my suit and headed to my bike.

Birch tree with the red streamer on it, close to the end...yikes someone had put some of their gear on my stuff.  I made a quick guess that is was my neighbor with the matching Newton Motion VI running shoes so I respectfully moved their things over and went through my routine: rolled up socks over my feet, then helmet on and buckled while I slipped my bike shoes on.  Secure the velcro and roll my bike out to bike mount line.  It was way out there. I stopped for sunscreen and kept running in bike shoes until I finally reached the mount line.  I even remembered to push my watch button.

Rolling out I felt awesome. This was my strength and as we headed out to Higgin's Point I passed people all the way.  Guys are weird.  A few times I passed a male participant only to be re-passed seconds later at which point he would slow down again to the pace he had been going so I would need to re-pass.  I was maintaining a consistent effort level and speed and so I concentrated on following the rules, not blocking, not drafting.  Before long I was heading back to town and then on my way out to highway 95. I heard Wade and a few other cheer as I went by but I was trying to focus.

Hwy 95 is my least favorite bike ride.  I admit it now. I tried to fool myself into thinking I should love the hometown course but to no avail.  I like rollers or flat. I am not going to pretend anymore.  This race I felt strong on the dreaded grinding hills and continued to pass women in my age group. Mostly on the short flatter spots and the downhills.  Obviously it's a strength to weight ratio thing.  I'm going to work on it because I hate seeing that 43 on the woman's calf again when she passes me back on the steep spots. Despite the weather predictions for zero wind there was a decent headwind when I went around the turnaround.  This was demoralizing to me and I let it affect my mindset for the rest of the ride.  Wind and hills ugh.  Then I realized that I had paused my watch at some point and it was in sleep mode. That point was T1 (swear words).  Plus my saddle suddenly became unbearable.  I had a strange pain in the left side of my groin. Lots of shifting around and too much standing to set me up well for the run ensued.

I did make it back.  19+ mph on that course is actually a PR for me so I should quit complaining. I had a smooth T2 that included a Porta Potty stop. Running felt crappy  but it always does in the beginning.  Except it didn't get better.  It was hot. I had definitely overbiked. And my heels were not healed.  I had a really bad flare up of Plantar Fasciitis about a week before.  Stretching, insoles, trigger point, Strausburg socks, all helped a ton but my feet still hurt.  Still I kept going. The first two miles felt so slow but turned out to be my fastest. That was eye opening: have patience on the run and know that the first 5k will not feel great but don't give up on your goals until you've had time to find your rhythm.  Since I didn't realize that until after the race,  I walked a lot.  Ken started to run beside,  around,  and back and forth to me on the second lap which was hugely entertaining and helpful to me and all who were in the vicinity.  Seeing Stacey, Jeremy, Holly, Cassie and more friends out there volunteering and cheering helped too. I had dropped my flask of Ucan "paste" somewhere so I was without my favorite fuel (darn tri tops and their shallow pockets) but I took some cliff shots, sips of coke and lots of water and ice. I probably didn't need the Cliff Shots because I had taken enough Ucan on the bike but it was a distraction so I did have two.  My attitude improved as I hit the park on my second loop.  Up that last uphill, then turn the corner and I was back on Sherman Avenue.  Suddenly I could run like the wind so I did.  Right on through the finish shoot and across the finish line.  The girl who "caught" me led me right up to Jess, my friend and co-worker.  Jess was trying to make me understand something but I was just so happy to be not running.  Slowly the light dawned and I realized Andy Potts was putting my medal over my head.  Whaaaat?! He shook my hand too.  That was a pretty cool moment.

I felt horrible for the second half of this race and it was because I over-biked. It made the last part of the race less than fun. As in "I never want to do this again" type of less than fun.  I executed my race poorly and have been really down about it. Until I went to swim with Team Blaze tonight.  It should have clicked sooner, like when one of my friends who helped me with my foot pain pre-race missed the bike cut-off but did the run anyway. Or when a friend who missed the bike cut-off last year made it this year but only got to do one loop of the run and was still happy and optimistic about her upcoming full Ironman in November. Me complaining and grumbling about my performance was really insensitive and short sighted. I finished well and broke 6 hours which is really respectable.  I need to stop wallowing and look forward to Whistler in 4 short weeks.

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