Coeur d’Alene 70.3 Ironman Lessons Relearned

An update on the Coeur d’Alene 70.3 half-Ironman.

The day started early. Everyone had to be out of the transition area by 6 am. I heard a lot of talk about how cold the water would be and how intense the elevation is for the bike ride. I decided to purchase a new full Roka wetsuit that I had been eyeing for a while and happened to be on sale (killer deal…50% off!) at the Ironman Village. At the last minute, I decided to use the full wetsuit instead of my tried and true sleeveless.

The morning was beautiful and Lake Coeur d’Alene calm. Having just purchased my wetsuit, I had never used it prior to this 1.2 mile swim. The water was a balmy 64 degrees and felt warm enough for my sleeveless wetsuit. I was committed to the new Roka due to a hasty decision.

The event organizers did a fantastic job, beginning to end. The water start was self-seeded and rolling, paced at about every 5 seconds per small group. As mellow as mellow can be when you get in the water with about 2600 other people. Unfortunately, when I got into the water I quickly realized that my new wetsuit provided a lot of compression and I wasn’t accustomed. I began to panic and worry that I couldn’t breathe. Also, I had a zig-zagging dude backstroking across the lake from the buoys back to the support staff right in front of me every couple of minutes. I swam backstroke, treaded water, looked up at the sky, and tried to float on my back. It took me half of the swim to calm down and relax into my normal cadence.

The bike portion went off without a hitch and I had one of my better times. I met some fantastic people on the ride and affirmed that living at the base of a mountain has its advantages for training on hills. My only difficulty was eating. I found that the stress of the swim sent my stomach into knots and I was only able to eat one bite of a nutrition bar and none of my sandwich. I put the nutrition bar into the back pocket of my shorts for a later time. Fortunately, my Infinit nutrition drink seemed to do the trick for the 56 mile trek.

My plan was to swim and bike, then bail for the run due to a recovering knee injury. I felt so good after the bike that I decided to try one loop of the 2 loop route. Not so great for me, all of the nutrition that I had carefully put into my body for the few days before the race left my body in the transition area porta potty prior to the run. To make matters worse, I happened to choose a porta potty with no toilet paper. Not much to do at that point other than suck it up, pull up my big girl tri-shorts and attempt to locate a porta potty with some toilet paper. As I stood to do this, my protein bar hit the floor of the porta potty. I did not put it back in my pocket.

Leaving that transition area as my nastiest athlete self, I set out to run. The support on the run was phenomenal. Every mile an aid station appeared, bands played, neighbors came out to cheer and cool down athletes with sprinkler hoses. I decided to do the next loop to make the 13.1 miles and finish the race. Around 7 miles my patellofemoral issue reminded me that it was alive and kicking. I chose to partake in an endurance sport sin by consuming 400 mg of ibuprofen. Hopefully, I won’t be reporting any kidney problems on my next blog. I took extra precautions to stay cool (ice down the bra, water over the head, hit every sprinkler), hydrate, consumed BASE electrolyte salts, walked and chatted with lovely volunteers and other athletes.

Such a fun day!

LESSONS LEARNED:

  1. Don’t wear anything new the day of a race (relearned. Hopefully I will get this one someday).
  2. Move away quickly from people who swim in strange ways.
  3. Consider putting a few tissues in your hydration belt. Check the porta potties for toilet paper.
  4. Expect to get gross.
  5. Find a good hydration drink. It got me through this race!
  6. Swim in the lake the day before the event so that you can figure out for yourself what temperature the water will be. Don’t believe the hype.
  7. Talk to volunteers and other athletes. It makes the day even more memorable.
Coeur d’Alene half Ironman finisher

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