Ironman Coeur d’Alene

Swim.

People self-selected time starts. I started in the 1:00 to 1:15 group; I liked the warm up swim area and paddled around some. Then I stood on the beach, I wasn’t cold but, like at IMAZ, I started shivering and teeth chattering. I was smiling and chatting with the people around me. I am always grateful for the people who want to talk….I want someone to just talk to me. Soon we were moving up and in the water. I was fine…no tightness in my chest, no need to roll over to breath.

For me this was a pretty rough swim. Going out was ok. The first time a bit rough. I expected it to get rough at the turns. Both times, on the return, I got really roughed up and had to do some extra siting to get out of the flurry of arms, legs, swimming over and being swum over. On the second lap I think I caught up with the slower swimmers and it was like trying to go through a wall. And just because they are slower doesn’t mean their stroke is soft. I got whacked a few times!

Two lap swim at IMCdA
Two lap swim at IMCdA

Finally I was out and running to transition.

T1
I was early in the tent and someone grabbed me as I ran in. I dumped my bag and took what I needed. She threw on sunscreen, helped me with my arm warmer’s and I was off. As I went to my bike I yelled my number. They sent me down the wrong side of the aisle and it took me longer to free my bike but I was soon off and running to the mount line.

Bike

I was off on the bike. For most of the first lap I was getting passed by men (and sadly faster women including 7 in my own age group). I focused on my power meter and decided if you are over riding I will catch you later. It was an ego blow….but I knew it was what I had to do to race smart.

My bento box wasn’t secure and gel flask annoying me. Damn! I need to check that out better next time. So…I put my gel flask in my jersey and tightened the bento box so I could access my GU chomps as planned. Grumble grumble.

I also heard a screw rattling and knew: it had come off my hydration system. So within the first two miles I had to pull over and fix it. Next race I am bringing a small wrench to be sure these are tight (I took it off and apart for travel). I was off again….wondering if it would hold. The good news is it did. The bad news is the bottom screw cam off by mile 20 and I heard it rattling again. I decided to combine a check stop and potty stop (hated to) and saw the bottom screw was now off. Damn. Will the system hold? I decided to go with nutrition plan A as long as possible and had plans B, And C quickly devised if one or both cages fell. The good news is it held for at least 2.5 hours so I finished my 1 and 1.5 hour bottles and had my water in there after my 1 hour bottle. I actually was able to stay with my nutrition plan and only modify it: as in I ended up tossing all three of my bottles after I finished each, and carrying water from the course in my cage on my frame to supplement my gel (planned for the last 1-1.5 hours anyway). Phew.

Out on the bike
Out on the bike

The hydration system issue made me keep tabs with my nutrition. Usually I fall behind about 15 minutes per hour. And at about mile 60-70 on the route I spit up some on the bike (literally on my bike…she needs a good wash!). I felt better after and kept going and had zero GI issues but…I backed off some. I need to see how to avoid that, either train better with keeping up with nutrition or make a change.

I had been worried/curious, somewhat, about my comfort level on the ride after my accident. The great news is I felt very comfortable and wasn’t at all nervous up/down hill, through town with all the spectators….and passing other riders. Fabulous! I figured once I started to race the race mentality would take over….and it did.

I did have to fight negative thoughts and giving up as I realized my bike pace, at the power I needed to be, wasn’t what I wanted it to be. I had to fight giving up and negative talk. It worked. Although the second lap was harder to keep my power up and the values did drop lower than I had trained for. I would say I did learn my weakness and where I need to focus for awhile: the bike.

As I rode I also heard teammates shout my name and encouragement. Most of the time I wasn’t able to react before they were gone on the other side. But I did hear and appreciated. I was hunkered down to ride. I also saw my family on the course. Carlos had managed to get out to near the last the last water stop and he, my parents and Sarah were cheering. Many teammates told me they loved seeing them out there. I sure did!

I was feeling fatigued at about 80 miles or so (as I mentioned before), and the last leg after the turn around my power was down some. My back hurt some where it had only hurt after my accident. I let it worry me  for all of 30 seconds, and then took it in stride. Getting up and stretching more often. I focused on the ride: pedaling downhill, pushing the flats and keeping steady on the up hills. My power, heart rate, and pace did flag on the second lap….too much.

112 miles flew by…even if slower than I wanted. I couldn’t let my ride affect the next part, and as soon as I dropped off my bike I didn’t think about it again until the next day. Soon I was coming in to T2.

T2
I rolled in, opting to keep my shoes on, and handed my bike off. I ran to my gear bag announcing my number and where it was (first on behind the post…yea). I grabbed my bag almost before the volunteer. T2 was slower than I wanted but in the tent I was fast. Sunscreen is where I took extra time…asking them to get my legs as well. I have been burned on a race before and it saps my focus and strength. I thanked them, realized I had my arm Warmers still on and stopped to toss them in the trash (they were cheap socks from Target) and ran off.

Run

The run was a battle of will. It is, at the same time, the hardest marathon I have ever run and the easiest. The miles clicked by quicker than I ever thought possible. I received compliments all the way that I had a great pace. And that I made it look easy. It didn’t feel easy. I knew I wanted to go as hard (at a sustainable pace) as I could for at least a half marathon. And then I knew I could push continuous segments until only 10k left and then….mentally I can push myself through a 10k. Mentally I had set myself up for a strong run, and so did Mary with her talk to me the day before (OK – she set up for a strong swim, bike and run….and given my bike it just speaks the power of the mind).

On the Run
On the Run

The run course was fun as that was where you could see people…more importantly teammates. Very few people passed me on the run. I barely noticed…keeping in myself. After the first 10 minutes I walked 1 minute…then stopped at the bathroom and grabbed some water. From then on I walked most water stops for about 15-30 seconds…more towards 30 seconds as time wore on.

Christian was out there cheering on Adam. He gave me a team update. Once I turned to corner to go back in the neighborhood I knew Adam would pass me heading out and I was still motivated…and wondering how long I could hold my pace. I had mentioned my question to Christian and he said “the race begins at mile 18. You can make the choice”. He also mentioned that for the second lap I have been there already and know the effort. Yup. In my mind I knew I could let go….but I also knew I wasn’t going to. I wanted four hours. It was tangible.

At the half way point I chose to keep pushing to mile 18.

I saw Mary and heard her say something. I gave her a blank look…not getting it and then realized she said “quick feet”. I focused on trying to keep that for the rest of the run, despite pictures showing me heel striking all the way.

On the second lap I noticed a sign on the big hill out: 6% grade 1/2 mile. OK – I was very glad I didn’t notice that one on the way out the first lap – not that it would have changed my mind! I ran the hills both laps….I was ready for them.

Once I made it to mile 18 and well…those signs saying 19 and 20 were for me. I realized a pr was mine and possibly a sub 4 hour marathon. I could keep going for a 10k. And I kept digging….I never bonked and never said enough. My choices felt natural. My legs ready.

I knew I was behind on my calorie intake….I had only finished 1 flask in 2 hours…it was supposed to last 1 hour. I kept taking in water and doing ok. I started working on my second bottle….and it lasted me until the end. I did worry a little about sodium since I couldn’t remember if it was amino acid pills or salt pills I had with me. I am vegetarian but opted to take a little chicken broth. I had done it in a race before and I knew it would be ok. Overall besides water and a little coke at the first water stop on each lap (was getting a headache and assumed it was because I needed caffeine…and it helped) I didn’t take anything else from the stops. I was self sufficient….even if behind on my calories. I had picked up my run flask and put it in my jersey at special needs so I had it if I caught up on my liquid nutrition. I didn’t. And really…probably pushed my luck but kept a strong pace. And I will admit, I did fade a little at the end…until I turned in to the neighborhoods for the last 2-3 miles. Then my heart rate starts going back up again as I accelerated to the finish!

Near the finish
Near the finish

I counted down the mile markers….amazed (again) at how quickly they passed.  I kept going and soon I saw the finish line. I was coming down and the crowd increased. I saw Michael along my right and smiled big. I gathered speed…reacting to the crowd and savored my run in. I had just missed the 4 hour marathon but still wanted the best time possible.

And in moments it was over. I was done. I had the biggest smile possible and felt very proud of the event I had….even if not my time I wanted. I raced smart and had a fabulous run. I had tried to run such that at the end I didn’t have another mile in me. I could have kept running….but not at the pace I had been holding. I had already started to slow despite chasing a sub four hour marathon.

Going Forward

I learned how powerful the mind is. I had set this up pretty much in my mind. I don’t think I had expected as slow of a bike as I did, and am surprised at how much I don’t like it (ahem…ego blow). Even with running a strong marathon and passing more people in my age group than passed me on the bike (I had gone down 7 spots in my age group on the bike and up 9 on the run), I expected a slightly stronger ride. But, with every race and training session I learn and use the information. I know where I need to focus for the most improvement. I can’t let any one thing drop, but I know my bike will get a little more special attention. And I will be looking for people/groups to ride with that will push me past that comfort zone on interval rides. It has worked on the swim and the run….it has to work with the bike too!

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4 thoughts on “Ironman Coeur d’Alene

  1. You continue to amaze me with your discipline and dedication, Katie. Nothing is out of reach if you’re determined to get it

  2. Awesome job out there Katie! I look back at all of the events you have done and am just amazed at how far you have come both physically and mentally. I know we all will see you qualify for Kona in the future.

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