Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Ironman Coeur d'Alene Race Report: Part 1

I'm going to have to break this race report into a few posts. Let's start with after Knoxville. I was worried. The bike course killed me. I decided that Jarrett and I would head down to Morgan Monroe State Park in Southern Indiana and ride some of the hills on the Hilly Hundred route. We headed down on a Saturday and met another Team T3 member who was new to the area. She is a Kona qualifier and has completed several IM's over the years. We rode about 30 miles together and then it became very obvious that we were WAY too slow for her so we split-up. Jarrett and I rode another 23 miles together. Our route brought us to a hill called Bean Blossom on 3 separate occasions. It is one of the very few rated hills in Indiana. The first two times I managed to climb the entire hill (it's about 2.5 miles long). The third time, I couldn't make it to the top. I freaked out and had a panic attack in the middle of the hill. Luckily Jarrett got me to calm down and I got back on and finished the stupid thing.

During the ride, I determined that I did not have the appropriate hill climbing gearing on my bike. I was trying very hard to love the 12x25 cassette that came on my bike but I just didn't have enough gears to spin up those hills. I almost always ended up out of the saddle mashing my way to the top. After we left, I did some research and determined that I needed to change to a 11x27 or 11x28. Luckily, the guys at T3 Multisport had an 11x28 in stock and got me all hooked up. I also decided to ditch my aero wheels and go with my lighter weight but less aero original wheelset. We headed back to Morgan Monroe the next weekend and I killed Bean Blossom and some of it's hilly friends. I was feeling much more confident about surviving Coeur d'Alene.

Training for CdA was tough. I traveled a ton leading up to the race and did not get as much training time in as I would have liked. After the Indianapolis Mini Marathon I started to battle some nagging issues with my feet, shins, knees, and hamstrings. My biking and swimming were on track but running was starting to feel like torture. I tapered back to avoid potentially not being able to start at CdA. I do not regret that decision at all.

I dropped my bike off at T3 Multisport on June 19 so TriBike Transport could pick her and my pretty pink Speedo gear bag up and haul them 2900 miles across the country. That was the first time the race felt "real" to me. I spent almost a week getting my bag ready and I can confidently say I thought of everything - except for hand warmers.

Jarrett and I flew from Indy to Denver and then Spokane on the Thursday before the race. When we landed in Spokane we were surrounded by beautiful mountains. The weather was cool and sunny. We rented a car and decided to grab lunch in Spokane before we drove the 30 miles east to Coeur d'Alene. I picked a fantastic little pub called Elk Public House. I enjoyed a tasty lamb sandwich and some chips. We rolled into CdA about 11 am. We were staying at the host hotel - The Coeur d'Alene Resort and Spa. It was amazing. The lake was beautiful and the entire town was adorable.

We headed over to TriBike transport to get my gear bag. I had packed my USAT card in my bag and I needed it to be able to check-in. Athlete check-in went very quickly. The Ironman event planners are super organized and the volunteers running the tables were efficient. They banded me and gave me all my bags and stuff and we headed back to the hotel. On our way we stopped to check out the lake. There was a pretty stiff wind and it was super choppy. All of the athletes getting out of the water were complaining about the rough conditions and the cold temps. Lake temps were about 51-53 degrees.

Jarrett and I explored the town a little while we waited for our rooms to be ready. There is a lot of art galleries and very cool bronzes and statues on the street corners. Once we got our rooms we picked-up my bike and spent the evening relaxing.

Friday morning I got up and went for my first swim in Lake Coeur d'Alene. It was choppy and cold but I survived. In fact, I kind of enjoyed it. Except for the frozen feet. I made fun of the people at Knoxville wearing neoprene booties with their I wish I had them. We did some shopping a the Expo and then went out to drive the bike course. Unlike, Rev3, WTC had the bike course clearly marked DAYS before the race.

The course was interesting. There was a pretty significant hill in the first 8 miles and then it was flat until mile 20ish. That's where the fun started. I would describe the hills as rolling with two significant climbs all crammed between miles 20-48. Then it was flat/down-hill coming back into town. The bike course was 56 miles and you had to do it twice. Everything at CdA was two loops - swim, bike, and run. After driving the bike, I felt a lot better. The ride was going to be challenging but you were actually rewarded with some flats and downhill sections, unlike Knoxville.

The rest of Friday was spent relaxing and packing my transition bags. My bike along with my T1 and T2 bags had to be dropped off Saturday. We headed to the movies and saw Bridesmaids before going to bed extra early.

Part 2: Race Day! Finally!

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